Dungannon and South Tyrone Area Plan 2010
Policy Framework: Agriculture and Forestry
Agriculture is an important land use in Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough and one of the most important local industries, employing approximately 3,771 people on 2,035 farms. Over half of farms are involved in cattle and sheep production, while dairy farming and pig rearing also make a significant contribution to the local economy. Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough is currently the largest producer of poultry in Northern Ireland. (Source: NI Agricultural Census 2003, DARD)
The Borough's strong dairying, cattle, sheep, pig and poultry production is reflected in the agri-businesses that have been established in the area, with significant concentrations of meat and poultry processing at Granville and Killyman Road.
Farm sizes tend to be very small by United Kingdom and European Union standards, with less than approximately 50% of the labour force employed full-time. The rest is either part-time or employed on a seasonal basis with farm incomes tending to be supplemented from other sources.
In common with the rest of Northern Ireland, farm incomes in the Borough are falling in real terms, leading to an increased demand for alternative employment on and off the farm. The Department accepts the need for farmers to diversify into non-agricultural activities to supplement their farming income and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) has a range of initiatives to support this process.
Forestry operations in Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough are carried out by DARD's Forest Service and the private sector. Approximately 4,700 hectares are devoted to woodland, of which 4,200 hectares are managed publicly and 500 hectares privately. Forest Service combines the commercial production of timber with both formal and informal public recreation at a number of locations, including Parkanaur and Favour Royal.
Government policy in Northern Ireland is to encourage afforestation on land where forestry is considered to be the most appropriate long-term land use. In its publication, 'Afforestation - The DARD Statement on Environmental Policy', the Forest Service has provided guidance on the environmental criteria to be used in considering particular afforestation proposals. The opportunity to extend afforestation onto more productive sites is also highlighted. The establishment of both broadleaf and conifer woodlands in the private sector is encouraged by grant aid from Forest Service under its Woodland Grant Scheme.
The Woodland Trust , a charitable organisation concerned with the conservation and promotion of our broad-leafed and native woodlands, has been funded by the Millennium Commission and others to create new community woods in Northern Ireland. The project 'Woods on your Doorstep' has involved collaboration with local organisations in identifying areas of existing or potential woodland within or close to settlements for planting. Each wood will incorporate, where appropriate, non-woodland elements such as ponds, meadows and hedges and a millennium statue or other feature chosen by local people.
Regional Policy Context
The Regional Development Strategy (RDS) seeks to create a strong, diversified and competitive rural economy by:
- maintaining a working countryside with a strong mixed-use rural economy; and
- continuing to create and sustain an attractive and unique rural environment in the interests of the rural
The Department's regional planning policies for agriculture and forestry development in Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough are currently set out in A Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland. This contains policies for agricultural land quality, agricultural and forestry development and farm diversification. Public consultation draft Planning Policy Statement 4 (PPS 4): Industry, Business and Distribution also addresses rural enterprise and industrial projects in the countryside.
The Millennium Commission, in association with Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council, NIHE and the Woodland Trust propose to develop sites at Dunlea Vale (Lettervad Wood) and at Roskeen Road in Dungannon and at Gortgonis in Coalisland for Community Woodlands over the Plan period. The sites are identified on the relevant settlement maps.
These woodlands, to mark the millennium, are to provide a source of informal recreation, beauty, tranquillity, and quiet enjoyment for local people. The sites will also contribute to woodland biodiversity and increase the area of new native woodland. The Woodland Trust will provide and maintain paths, gates and similar facilities for public access.
The Department will be sympathetic to proposals such as appropriate amenity facilities, sensitively located car parks and interpretative signs within or adjacent to these areas that promote their use. The site at Gortgonis offers the possibility for additional public access to the adjacent Coalisland Canal footpath.