EBA supports proposals to change nitrogen directive – a potential big win for biogas plants

Proposals to change a 26-year-old EU directive on nitrates to promote manure fertilisers have been tabled by the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Parliament.

Jan Huitema, the MEP who proposed to revise the 1991 EU Nitrates Directive, said it was “the only solution” to help farmers use animal manure on their land and curb their need for mineral fertilisers.

If approved, uptake of on-farm biogas integration could rise as treated animal waste would no longer be subject to nitrogen limitations.

If farmers could treat their own manure on-site they could avoid expensive, imported mineral fertilisers – something which has also been highlighted as a concern in Germany by the German Biogas Association.

The European Biogas Association told ENDS it “firmly supports” Huitema’s proposal to revise the directive as this would give “the biogas sector a very positive signal to treat manure at a large scale.”

However, MEPs have cautioned against the “legally troubling” proposal.

Speaking at a meeting of the agriculture committee on 12 April, Clara Eugenia Aguilera (S&D), said Huitema’s proposal to use the new EU Fertilisers Regulation to exempt livestock manure fertilisers from an old nitrogen limit raised “legal and technical doubts”.

The proposed amendment to revise a completely separate law was shared by several of Huitema’s colleagues.

The committee is expected to vote on Huitema’s draft recommendation on 30 May 2017.

Source: EndsWaste&bioenergy.

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