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Plans to tax cow manure under the Industrial Emissions Directive dropped

The European Commission's decision not to include cattle in the Industrial Emissions Directive is a great relief for the livestock sector, but any proposed measures on manure spreading could still impact on the industry,say the National Farmers' Union.

It follows publication of a Commission report in response to a number of review clauses in the Industrial Emissions Directive, which has been the focus of sustained lobbying by the NFU since changes were considered in 2007. In 2010, new clauses were included to allow the Commission to review thresholds for poultry, mixed pig and poultry farms and whether there was a need to control emissions from cattle - but these will now not be implemented.

However, the report also states that the European Commission will be further investigating whether EU measures should be introduced for manure spreading and for combustion plants less than 50 megawatts, which the NFU believes may affect some glasshouses growing protected edibles. This work will be undertaken under the review of the EU Thematic Strategy for Air Pollution.

NFU chief environment adviser Dr Diane Mitchell said: "This is a great relief for the livestock sector and we are pleased to see that commonsense has prevailed. The NFU has remained convinced that the directive is ill-suited to the agriculture sector and argued that the costs of extending the scope of the directive would have far outweighed the environmental benefits.

"We are, however, concerned about the proposals to look at possible additional EU controls on manure spreading and combustion plant less than 50 megawatts. We would urge the Commission to recognise the value of industry-led initiatives, such as Tried & Tested, helping improve nutrient management on-farm and also to acknowledge the fact that national controls are already in place for combustion plants before it considers any additional measures.

"We are making sure that we are closely following the discussions in Brussels on the review of the EU Thematic Strategy to ensure that we have a satisfactory outcome for British farmers and growers."

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