Planning rules to be eased for Northern Ireland’s farmers

Farmers in Northern Ireland will soon be able to undertake new building or extend existing agricultural buildings, including poultry sheds, without having to go through the planning process.

Under plans issued by environment minister Alex Attwood, farmers should be able to construct buildings up to 500 sq m without planning, compared with a limit of 300 sq m.

“These proposals, which are the most generous in these islands, will eliminate unnecessary red tape to enable agriculture to grow in a challenging economic climate,” said Mr Attwood.

“I want to help expand our agri-food business by 40% in the next few years. Increasing the range of agricultural development that no longer needs planning permission will make it easier for farmers to undertake development.”

The consultation, which ends on 18 January, also covers things like milking parlours, slurry stores and anaerobic digesters.

It is anticipated that these proposals will become law in spring 2013.

English farmers are also anticipating some easing in the planning regulations next year, following a consultation into “changes of use” regulations.

This will extend permitted development rights to allow agricultural buildings to be converted to commercial use without the need for planning permission.

But there are no plans to increase the size of farm buildings covered by permitted development rights from the 465 sq m in England.

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