Concern on planning policy for new entrants

editorial image

Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman and Chairman of Stormont’s Agriculture Committee William Irwin MLA has said he is concerned by a shortfall in the current planning policy which disenfranchises new entrants to farming.

Mr Irwin said that those new entrants who wish to erect new animal housing on their land, but do not have their Farm Business ID for more than six years, are prevented from building suitable housing, meaning they would not meet animal welfare standards.

He stated: “This is becoming more of an issue and I am aware of a number of cases whereby new entrants to farming have not been permitted by planners to erect sheds for their animals.

“I feel this then presents obvious issues in terms of animal welfare and it is a significant hurdle for any new entrants to farming who find themselves in this situation.

“I feel regardless of the length of time a person has a business ID number, they should be permitted by planners to erect sheds on their land, otherwise how does that person meet animal welfare standards and how do they progress in farming?”

He continued: “I have written to the Chief Planner in my own Council area and the Minister for Environment Mark Durkan MLA to raise these concerns and hopefully a resolution can be achieved for those new entrants to farming to avoid any difficulties with animal welfare. In my view and that of farmers I have spoken to, there is a real requirement for the new local council planning departments to address this policy shortfall and assist the agriculture industry and that is something I will be pursuing.”