The Ulster Farmers’ Union says it is time for DAERA to make decisions on planning applications to allow farm businesses frustrated by the planning process to move on.
UFU president, Ivor Ferguson said, “Farmers across Northern Ireland have spent thousands on planning only for DAERA to stall the procedure because they can’t make up their mind on a planning policy that will support the reduction of ammonia emissions. Meanwhile farming businesses are left at a standstill. Farmers are well aware of the ammonia challenge and are doing their bit to address it, but the current uncertainty is unhelpful and unfair. Many farmers have submitted plans to upgrade their buildings and ultimately reduce ammonia emissions. Those that meet the current planning criteria must be given permission and be allowed to proceed. DAERA has left them hanging on for far too long and it must end now.”
Regardless of size or scale, farms across all sectors are being impacted. The UFU says many farmers have been left in a state of limbo for years as they wait for the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency (NIEA) and Shared Environmental Services (SES), to decide on how to progress with planning applications mainly due to the impact of ammonia emissions.
“NIEA and SES continue to shift the parameters in terms of the criteria that farmers must fulfil to get planning permission, and this is adding unnecessary stress. Those who wish to invest in their farm business and upgrade facilities applied to a policy in good faith and for some, years have gone by and they are still no further forward. Our farmers are angry and frustrated, and rightly so. They do not know what to do next or who to turn too,” said Ferguson.
DAERA’s inability to make a decision regarding planning permission has caused serious delays for many farm businesses.
“Investing in farm businesses can increase productivity, reduce emissions and provide new employment opportunities. By stalling planning permission unnecessarily, DAERA is preventing rural communities benefiting from farming investments that would enable the sector to continue to flourish,” said the UFU president.
The UFU have met with NIEA on a number of occasions and have stressed repeatedly that a decision must be made regarding planning permission, so farmers are able to progress. The UFU have also requested a meeting with SES and await their response.