Livestock: Northern Ireland

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 5th September 2018.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what screening procedures are in place to monitor the effect of industrial pig and poultry production on the trans-boundary environment and health of Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Throughout the UK, monitoring stations for emissions of key pollutants are sited in accordance with criteria set out in the EU Air Quality Directive to ensure results are representative and also comparable across all member states. Monitoring data are available at https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk.

The UK has long recognised the importance of international coordinated action to reduce the environmental damage caused by air pollution. In June this year, the UK (and other EU Member States) began reporting on our monitoring of the impacts of air pollution on ecosystems. This brings together monitoring and modelling data so that we may chart progress in reducing the environmental harm caused by excessive ammonia emissions from agriculture. Policy to address air pollution is devolved. Policy on the control of air pollutants in Northern Ireland is led by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

The DAERA operational policy for the regulation of PPC intensive pig and poultry farms in Northern Ireland includes a screening assessment of the potential impacts of trans-boundary emissions on designated habitats in Ireland. DAERA apply the same screening thresholds with regard to potential impacts on habitats in Ireland as for designated habitats in Northern Ireland. The screening procedures include a precautionary distance criteria, habitat sensitivity based on critical loads and an in-combination assessment. Ammonia concentrations are monitored at three sites across Northern Ireland as part of the National Ammonia Monitoring Network.

In relation to trans-boundary consultations on planning consultations, DAERA recommend that the Planning Authority consults with the Ireland (National Parks and Wildlife Service) if it is considered necessary.

In relation to Environmental Protection Agency permitted facilities in Ireland, DAERA is consulted as the statutory Nature Conservation Body for advice where there is the potential for effects on protected habitats in Northern Ireland.

DAERA is also currently reviewing its approach to ammonia emissions and their impacts, including emissions from pig and poultry production, through its Project on Ammonia Reduction. DAERA is currently working with stakeholders with the aim of developing an Ammonia Action Plan.

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