The Ulster Farmers’ Union says it is continuing to press DAERA and NIEA to find workable and practical solutions to the ammonia issue. UFU president, Ivor Ferguson said, “We know many of our members are caught in planning limbo because of ammonia. We understand their frustration and are working to find a resolution. It is an issue that has wider implications for the entire industry and has the potential to hinder development.”
The UFU has met with DAERA and NIEA on several occasions in the last few months. Recently, DAERA shared their initial views on proposed mitigation measures for all farms across Northern Ireland to reduce ammonia. The proposals will be considered by the UFU policy committees in the coming months.
Ferguson said, “Ultimately, we want to ensure any measures imposed on the industry are cost effective, deliver reductions in ammonia, and that financial support is provided by the Government. And we have the backing of many of our agri-food industry partners, who have agreed to work together with us on this.”
In terms of the mitigation measures, Ferguson said: “Farmers will be relieved that the department is not considering destocking or de-intensification on farms as an option, despite pressure from environmental groups. This is not the way to tackle environmental issues and evidence from the Netherlands showed that their cow culling policy actually resulted in the development of larger, more intensive farms.”
The UFU continues to support a number of members who have applications stuck in the planning process because of ammonia levels. “Some of the situations are mind boggling. There are farmers who want to replace buildings or equipment with more efficient technologies that would ultimately reduce their ammonia levels. And they aren’t being granted planning permission because of ammonia. This is completely unacceptable,” said the UFU president.