The Ulster Farmers’ Union in conjunction with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health have produced a guide for farmers to help explain the role of the environmental health service in NI and also provide additional information and guidance.
UFU Environment Chairman John McLenaghan said: “More often farmers are finding themselves dealing with public complaints in relation to farming practices, such as noise or odours, and the aim of this guide is to help reduce incidences that may cause tension between farming communities and the wider community. Also, we hope the guide will help to encourage a move to more informal resolutions of issues when they do occur.
“The agri-food industry is a driver of Northern Ireland’s economy and the Government has recognised this in the form of commitments to the Agri-Food Strategy Board’s ‘Going for Growth’ action plan where there is the expectation that there will be further growth and development of the agri-food sector. Ultimately, agriculture and the environment are inseparable and the ability to produce quality food and products from the land is dependent on the quality of the environment. There are many rules and regulations in place to help protect our environment but often it is difficult for farmers and others to be fully aware of all the various requirements, particularly when changes are being made to a farming business. Environmental Health Officers (EHO’s) within local councils can be a valuable source of information of advice and information for farmers on a wide range of issues ranging from environmental protection to hygiene in food production.”
Gary McFarlane added: “Having been approached by UFU in the first instance with regards to the increasing number of issues that many farmers are facing in terms of dealing with public complaints, we hope that this guide will provide assistance and indeed reassurance to farmers that the Environmental Health Service in Northern Ireland, whilst duty bound to investigate alleged complaints, is there to assist in resolving such matters. Likewise, with other environmental health matters such as certain planning applications or indeed farm diversification, the service is there to assist and I would urge any farmers considering these to make contact with their local environmental health departments early on in the process.”
John McLenaghan concluded: “This guide is a handy reference for farmers about environmental health issues and I would encourage everyone to have a look at it. Also if you do have queries, you can contact your local Environmental Health Officer for more information.”
Hard copies of the guide are available from UFU Headquarters, local group offices and you can access a electronic version at http://www.cieh-nireland.org/policy/toolkit_guidance.html