The European Parliament has agreed to scrap extensions to legislation for the Integrated Pollution Prevention Control Directive (IPPC), which could have severely impacted Europe’s small pig and poultry units.

The IPPC aims to improve health and environmental protection, while making the rules clearer and easier to implement. It updates and merges seven pieces of existing legislation.

The proposed changes would have seen reduced thresholds for laying hens, ducks and turkeys impacting on smaller family farms, as well as bringing in many more pig farms into the scope of the Directive.

The changes would also have extended the control of the IPPC into off-site manure spreading. The frequency of inspection for installations posing the lowest risk has also been extended to a maximum of three years by the Parliament, which should mean significant savings on the ongoing cost of permits.

The initial proposal for changes to the Directive had included; reducing the thresholds for laying hens, ducks and turkeys to 30,000, 24,000 and 11,500 head, respectively; including pigs and other poultry on the basis on nitrogen excretion equivalency; and, extending controls to off-site manure spreading.

Farming unions have welcomed the change, however, they point out that the Directive remains unsuited to the agricultural sector, having been originally formulated to govern large power stations, and warn that a proposed review, due before the end of 2011, could still pose a risk for producers.

The review will look at, amongst other things, the spreading of manure and broiler units with a total rated thermal input below 50 MW. It will also look at whether differentiated thresholds for poultry are needed, and whether capacity thresholds for different types of animal within the same installation are required.