DAERA statement: Planning applications will no longer be based on Ammonia Standing Advice

The Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has announced that its Environment Agency (NIEA) will no longer rely on published Ammonia Standing Advice as the basis for statutory advice on planning applications, in a departure from the direction set by the previous DAERA Minister.
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As a result, with immediate effect, the NIEA will instead provide planning authorities with case and site-specific advice, on a case-by-case basis, until such times as a new ammonia strategy and updated standing advice have been agreed and are in place.

NIEA has informed planning authorities and other stakeholders of the decision.

In a statement this afternoon DAERA said this decision has been taken by a senior officer of the Department under the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Act 2022, after careful consideration and in response to a potential legal challenge by the Office of Environmental Protection and has been approved by the Permanent Secretary.

The statement continues: “The NIEA fulfils an important role on behalf of the Department in providing advice to planning authorities on applications for planning permission, particularly in cases where a development proposal is likely to have an adverse effect on a Northern Ireland priority habitat or priority species or is likely to have an effect on an Area of Special Scientific Interest or a European site. However, decisions on whether planning permission should be granted rest with the relevant planning authority.

"Officials are working hard to finalise a new draft strategy on ammonia informed by the responses received to the Call for Evidence which closed in October this year. DAERA remains committed to ensuring that advice to returning ministers on a new strategy is informed by science and evidence and supports and delivers the Department’s statutory obligations relevant to safeguarding our natural environment.

"While timescales for agreeing and implementing a new strategy will be dependent on the return of ministers, officials are committed to ensuring that proposals for that new strategy are ready for ministers’ consideration early in the New Year.”