A legal challenge has been started by the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) over changes to planning rules in NI.

A judicial review is being sought by the UFU against Shared Environmental Services (SES), the body that advises local councils on planning issues.

SES changed rules for assessing ammonia emissions from farm-related planning applications earlier this year.

The UFU argues that the rules were changed without any warning and consultation. It also says that the new rules are stricter than guidance from the NI Environment Agency.


“The changes make it virtually impossible for farm businesses to meet the thresholds,” UFU president Ivor Ferguson said.

“If the farm business is sited within 7.5km of certain designated sites, their application will more than likely be denied,” he added.


The UFU is challenging the SES planning change on six grounds, namely illegality, procedural unfairness, failure to consult, irrationality, material considerations and lack of adequate reasons for why guidance was changed.

The initiation of legal action is not a surprise given that the UFU has been vocal on the issue for several months.

At an event in Cookstown last week, UFU deputy president Victor Chestnutt said: “We feel this is completely wrong and we will be challenging whatever way we can.”

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