Planning Portal

Planning For The Nitrates Directive

Published on Mon, 27 Jun 2005
Following discussions with DARD, the DOE is considering changes to Planning requirements from farmers in light of the European Nitrates Directive.
Environment Minister Jeff Rooker said: "Compliance with the Nitrates Directive Action Programme is a legal requirement falling exclusively on the agricultural industry. However, the measures taken to store slurry and to restrict the spreading of slurry on land will result in significant environmental improvements, in particular concerning water quality, for Northern Ireland .
"The timetable requires the new slurry storage facilities to be in place by January 2007. It is anticipated that this will generate in the region of 1,200 additional planning applications. While I believe that we can process the applications in the time available, I have been asked by the industry and elected representatives to consider increasing the size of agricultural building allowed under planning permitted development rights, thereby reducing the number of planning applications and eliminating the related planning fees.
"I have decided that the best way on this is to conduct a short public consultation during July to help inform a decision. The consultation paper will issue at the end of June."

Notes to Editors

  1. The Nitrates Directive seeks to reduce or prevent water pollution caused by the application and storage of organic manure and chemical fertiliser on farmland. The mandatory requirements include periods when the application of organic fertilisers (manure and slurry) is prohibited and a minimum storage capacity for livestock manure on farms.
  2. A joint DOE/DARD consultation on the action programme to implement the Directive commenced on 21 February 2005. One of the proposed measures in the action programme is a requirement for a minimum 22 weeks slurry storage capacity on the agricultural unit. Farmers will therefore require larger slurry storage than they have at present.
  3. Current NI planning permitted development rights allow agricultural buildings of up to 300 sq. m. ground area to be erected without applying for planning permission. However, DARD has estimated that over 1200 farmers will need additional slurry storage facilities in excess of this size and will have to apply for planning permission.
  4. There is a timetable for claiming grant aid from DARD towards the additional slurry storage arrangements (under the Farm Nutrient Management Scheme works must be completed and grant aid claimed by the end of November 2006) and for implementation of the Directive by 1 January 2007.
  5. The Planning Service is satisfied that the additional applications can be processed in time. However, the farming and livestock industry and elected representatives have asked the DOE Minister to increase permitted development rights to reduce the number of applications needed and the cost in planning fees to farmers.
  6. Clearly, there are arguments for and against the change and the Minister has decided to issue a short public consultation paper before making a decision on the way forward.
  7. The consultation paper is expected to issue on 30 June 2005 with a consultation period of 1 month. The Minister expects to reach a decision in September.
  8. Media enquiries contact DOE Press Office at 028 9054 0003.
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