Green lobby must understand farm challenges

Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA (PICTURED RIGHT) has said that the green lobby must understand the challenges farming faces with food production and regulatory pressures ahead of a Green Party debate on Monday in the Assembly.
William Irwin MLAWilliam Irwin MLA
William Irwin MLA

The Green Party motion calls for a suspension on planning approvals for farm developments, something Mr Irwin said would be most unwelcome within the farming community.

He stated: “This is a wholly ill-thought out motion and one which, if implemented, would have drastic consequences for our farming community and for the important and vital issue of welfare of animals.”

He added: “The motion as it stands is unwelcomed by the farming community in general, given the fact that we are already governed by very strict emmissions levels in regards to ammonia and planning decisions in respect of proximity to Special Areas of Conservation.

“Be under no illusion farmers care for the environment and want to protect it as much as possible and this includes the important issue of ammonia and its management.

“A crucial issue in making further improvements in ammonia management is financial assistance for farmers to develop and utilise new technologies and also continuing progress on developing DAERA’s Ammonia Action Plan.”

He said: “In regards to planning permission, the main consultees approached by local Council Planning Departments in these instances face significant delays in processing applications as it is, such is the detail that is sought and deliberated on. To have a situation where there was an outright halt put to planning decisions would be a very serious matter and a retrograde step for farming in Northern Ireland.”

He concluded: “It is important to state that our agri-food industry in Northern Ireland is crucial supporting approximately 100,000 jobs and contributing almost £5 billion to the economy.

“With this firmly in mind, I will be recording my strongest objections to any such moratorium and rather will be pushing for further assistance for our farmers in order to continue investment in equipment and methods that will allow further reductions in ammonia, within achievable margins but which crucially do not cripple what is one of Northern Ireland’s key industries.”