DAERA using flawed science to measure ammonia emissions

Thursday, 4 January, 2018

The Ulster Farmers’ Union says getting a true picture of ammonia emissions in Northern Ireland remains one of the biggest challenges for the agri-food industry and must be addressed urgently. The comments were made following the publication of a report on ammonia emissions by an expert working group.

UFU president, Barclay Bell, says NIEA and DAERA have a lot to answer for when it comes to the approach taken to tackle ammonia emissions. “The report largely vindicates our views that department have got it wrong when it comes to mapping ammonia emissions in Northern Ireland. We cannot understand how they have arrived at the decisions they have. There has been a complete lack of transparency and communication with industry has been poor. It is no secret that a number of planning applications and Tier 2 Farm Business Improvement Scheme applications are being held up as a result of issues with ammonia.

“We have been critical of the way DAERA and NIEA have dealt with the issue. We want them to clarify and explain why the measuring of ammonia emissions is different here than in the rest of the UK. We believe the science they are using in Northern Ireland is flawed and that a more robust evidence baseline is needed.”

The UFU is considering the report in full but believes it clearly shows that there are still many unknowns in relation to ammonia issues in Northern Ireland and more research is needed. “Farmers are the custodians of the countryside. We recognise the importance of protecting the environment and have demonstrated a commitment to tackling water quality issues and greenhouse gas emissions through a partnership approach. DAERA and NIEA need to recognise the actions farmers have already taken. A meaningful partnership approach between the government and industry would go a long way in helping to tackle this serious issue.”