In the North, the environmental debate is currently focused on how best to reduce ammonia emissions from farming, with the Department of Agriculture in Northern Ireland in the middle of a public consultation on its proposals.

The process has involved roadshow events at the three CAFRE campuses – Greenmount, Loughry and Enniskillen. At the event in Enniskillen, the crowd was pretty small, and the message pretty sobering. But you can always rely on a lad in the back row to lighten the mood.

Having been hit with 20 minutes on how ammonia from livestock housing is destroying our bogs, the south Fermanagh farmer could take no more. “The tourists come to Ireland to see our beautiful green land. I live near Moninea bog – it is a wilderness – there isn’t a tourist anywhere near it,” he reckoned.

Later in the event he was told how farmers in the Netherlands are being encouraged to put their cows out in the spring to help cut emissions and how some farmers have even managed to turn it into a public event.

“I can’t see too many coming to the Belturbet Road,” was the message from the back row. The Department officials took it well.

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