More research into ammonia is required

Jim Nicholson
Jim Nicholson

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has raised concerns about the delay in planning applications due to lengthy assessments on ammonia emissions in certain areas.

Mr Nicholson has also said more research into the issue of ammonia is required due to a number of questions surrounding the most recent report produced by the Expert Working Group on Sustainable Agricultural Land Management for Northern Ireland.

The MEP added: “There are currently 40 planning applications from farmers, with some linked to Tier 2 Business Development Schemes, that are currently being held up because ammonia assessments have to be carried out. This is having a disproportionate effect on farmers who are attempting to carry out farm improvements.

“Lengthy delays to planning applications due to the assessments will have serious repercussions for the agriculture industry in Northern Ireland, likely in contravention to Going for Growth. Current and frankly unrealistic emission ceilings are obviously not helpful.

“Whilst it is important to pay cognisance to the impacts of ammonia, there needs to be a balance struck between the protection of the environment and the promotion of the agricultural industry. This balance is possible, but unfortunately at this moment in time for many farmers it seems as if the balance is unfairly weighted against farmers.”

Mr Nicholson added: “As we begin to prepare ourselves for life outside of the European Union, it offers the opportunity to craft, develop and implement regulations and policies which are soundly evidence based and has buy-in.”