The Scientific Committee for Air Emissions Livestock a step closer to the implementation of the nitrogen agreement

Vlast year the Flemish government decided to create a WeComV. On 10 July 2021, a new article 2.17.1 was inserted in Vlarem II for this purpose. This means that WeComV advises on all matters relating to air emissions from livestock farming and manure treatment. This includes the following air emissions: ammonia, particles, odors, biological substances and greenhouse gases. This advice is given at the request of the minister and on his own initiative.

WeComV can be informed and consulted for advice on the draft Flemish decrees and implementing decrees, on the draft ministerial decrees and on other policy documents on air emissions from livestock farming and manure treatment.

The decision taken by the Minister of the Environment on 29 August 2022 aims to make this WeComV operational now.

IS list

Since 2003, new pig and poultry houses must be built according to one of the techniques laid down in a list of housing systems with low ammonia emissions (the AEA list). These housing systems are approved by ministerial decree.

Currently, in addition to the AEA list, there is also a PAS list. In addition to housing techniques for cattle, the PAS list also contains feeding and management techniques for various animal species. Unlike the AEA list, this PAS list is not legally anchored. The draft PAS stipulates that both lists will be merged into a single list of emission reduction measures (ER list), which will also be legally anchored.

This list will apply to each animal category to the extent that techniques or measures are available. Techniques applicable to organic farms are also included in the list. The ER list will also indicate which combinations of techniques and measures are permitted. For each of the techniques and measures in the ER list, a description of the operating principle, the conditions for implementation and the conditions for using the technique or measure is given. The respective emission factor or reduction percentage is included for the different emission components (ammonia, odor, particulates, greenhouse gases) if available. In short: With the ER list, the Flemish government wants to go to one unique list where all recognized techniques or measures are included and described.

Procedure

The procedure for including techniques or measures on the ER list will at a later date be anchored in the regulation in accordance with the draft PAS. The new procedure will be based on the existing procedure for inclusion of a housing system on the AEA list.

Within this new procedure for getting a technique recognized, advice can be requested from WeComV. This advice is forwarded to the Minister for the Environment, who decides whether the technology or measure should be included in the ER list.

WeComV will therefore play an important role in the assessment of techniques and measures to reduce emissions related to livestock farming and manure processing. This means that WeComV is a necessary and important instrument for implementing the programmatic approach to nitrogen (PAS).

The fact that the public inquiry in the design of PAS criticized that there was no longer a scientific committee to assess new techniques and measures for emission reductions will undoubtedly have contributed to WeComV becoming operational is already being prepared.

Effective immediately

It is clear that the Flemish government wants to hurry, as the ministerial decree appeared in the Belgian state gazette just days after it was passed. Furthermore, the ministerial decree itself stipulates that it enters into force on the day of its publication in the Belgian State Gazette and not, as usual, 10 days after its publication in the Official Gazette.

Invitation of candidates

In order for WeComV to function effectively, appropriate members are obviously needed to compose this committee. And the minister doesn’t let grass grow on it either. In the same edition of Staatsblad, a call for candidacy for WeComV was immediately published.

Those interested can apply no later than 30 September 2022, after which an independent jury will assess the applications based on their competences. Ultimately, the minister will appoint the members of WeComV on the basis of their special scientific and technical competence in the area in question. The appointment is for a period of 4 years with the option of renewing the mandate.

Jan Upsummer

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