Sharvin Welcomes Easing of Planning Regulations for Farmers


Following an announcement by DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill, Down District Councillor Gareth Sharvin has welcomed the easing of planning rules for farmers across Northern Ireland.

The new rights, known as permitted development rights, will come in to operation in August 2013. They will increase the range of agricultural development that no longer needs planning permission.

dn_screenFarmers will now be able to undertake new build or extend agricultural buildings including sheds for hay and straw, storage and maintenance of agricultural machinery and plant, milking parlours, slurry storage tanks and chicken and other livestock sheds without having to go through the planning application process.
This means farmers can construct buildings up to 500 square metres without the need for a planning application (the equivalent of over 5,000 square feet). Currently they can only erect up to 300 square metres without the need for a planning application.

Councillor Sharvin said: “The easing of planning rules for farmers will eliminate unnecessary red tape to enable agriculture to grow in what is a challenging economic climate. When speaking with the Minister she informed me that extensive research was carried out and hhe has listened to the concerns that many have been expressed. I warmly welcome the changes that can help the industry grow over the coming years.”

“These new rights provide an essential balance, which will free up farmers to make improvements with safeguards to protect neighbours and ensure that development is of an appropriate scale and character.”

The new rights will also provide for the installation of structures of up to 500 square metres to house anaerobic digestion plant on agricultural units. Anaerobic digestion is a treatment process using, for example, farm crops and animal waste to produce biogas which can be used as a fuel to power and heat the farm.

Councillor Sharvin added:  “The market of renewable energy and technology, is the single biggest economic opportunity. With the hard work by the Minister in getting planning to be a better fit for purpose and aiming to achieve more renewable approvals, it can deliver on the economic front. Statistics have shown recently that there has been an increase of 90% in renewable energy applications.”

“The new planning rules will assist in helping farmers gain the benefits of renewable technologies such as anaerobic digesters which can help to make savings and reduce running costs in the longer term.

“This year already the former Minister for Environment, Alex Attwood, has paved the way for schools, businesses and farm buildings to install solar panels without planning permission and announced further rights to boost mobile phone and internet coverage in Northern Ireland.

“This is further proof that the Department is listening to the people of Down District in their concerns. These new planning rules are further commitment to the farming and renewable energy industries in Down District and will help support our local economy.”