Thousands of tonnes of animal waste are exported from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland every week for anaerobic digestion (AD), to create energy out of the slurry. However, if no withdrawal agreement is reached regarding Brexit, this trade could be threatened, affecting the farming and energy industries in the two countries.
SDLP has spoken to the media about the impact a no-deal Brexit could have on the sectors, as around 75,000 tonnes of chicken and pig manure is sent to AD plants in the Republic of Ireland a year to create electricity.
However, if the outcome of Brexit results in a border between the EU and the rest of the UK, other solutions will need to be carried out instead. These include spreading the waste on the land, incinerating it, or using other waste at energy facilities.
SDLP Assembly member John Dallat said: “I believe there is now a real risk to our rivers, watercourses, lakes and indeed the sea, as ammonia and other nitrates build up to levels that are well above what is considered safe, and we have no Assembly to address the issue.”
This is in addition to the fact that Northern Ireland already has higher levels of ammonia than anywhere else in the UK or Republic of Ireland.
AD sites in the Republic turn organic waste into biogas to create energy, making efficient use of the animal manure and preventing it from becoming hazardous litter.
Prime minister Theresa May has until March 29th to settle a withdrawal agreement with the EU, otherwise Britain would have to leave on a ‘no-deal’ arrangement. The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland has been a contentious issue throughout discussions, with many people wanting to avoid a hard border to maintain peace between the two.
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