The Government has no plans to extend the slurry deadline past October 15 of this year.

This is according to Damian English the Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, the Department in charge of the slurry spreading deadline.

Speaking in the Dail this week, Minister English said the deadline will not be extended in order to prevent an elevated risk of pollution to water bodies and the danger of the contamination of drinking water supplies.

The Minister has no plans at this time to consider an extension to the period for spreading slurry in 2016. However, he will keep the matter under review.

Responding to a question from Fianna Fail’s Eamon Scanlon, he said the nitrates directive was given legal effect by the consolidated European Communities Regulations in 2014.

And, the objective of these regulations is to protect ground and surface waters, including drinking water sources, primarily through the management of livestock manures and other fertilisers.

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“Good agricultural practice involves the land spreading of organic fertilisers as early as practicable in the growing season to maximise the uptake of nutrients by crops and to minimise pollution risks to water courses and ground waters.

“In accordance with the requirements of the nitrates directive, the regulations mandate closed periods when the application of certain types of fertilisers is prohibited.

In addition, the regulations prohibit such application at any time of the year when the ground is frozen or waterlogged or when heavy rain is forecast.

Minister English also said that specified closed periods are a key feature of the directive in all member states.

He continued to say that recent research by the Agricultural Catchments Programme concludes that no scientific evidence had been provided to it to support increased flexibility around closing dates.

The expert review group also agreed that the shoulder periods on either side of the opening and closing dates should be considered risky times for nutrient losses to water.

“As a precautionary measure, the group recommended that the stipulated setback distance from surface waters should be doubled from 5-10 m for two weeks before the commencement of the closed period and two weeks after the conclusion of the closed period,” he said.