Pig and Poultry farmers have secured a concession from Natural England over ammonia emissions.

Under the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control rules, about 80 pig and poultry units are facing strict reductions on ammonia emissions, says the NFU. These units are close to sites protected under the Habitats Regulations, such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Consequently, some of these units face having to make significant investment in technology to reduce their predicted ammonia contributions, scale down production or cease production altogether.

But after intense lobbying by the NFU and the National Pig Association, Natural England is to carry out a survey of all the habitat sites to determine the extent of damage due to ammonia. And then units will only face ammonia reduction targets where damage is found.

“This move to an evidence-based approach rather than modelling theoretical ammonia emissions is a step towards better regulation,” said NFU chief poultry adviser Rob Newbery.

In another development, the NFU has welcomed the latest Czech presidency compromise text for revisions to the IPPC directive, which deletes the proposed reductions in thresholds and the concept of nitrogen excretion rules. The change takes on board the results of a vote by MEPs back in March.

The reduction in thresholds would have seen the 40,000-bird threshold lowered to 30,000 for laying hens, 24,000 for ducks and 11,500 for turkeys, thereby bringing many more units under the onerous environmental permitting scheme.