DAERA launches consultation on draft Ammonia Strategy

Date published: 04 January 2023

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has launched a consultation on their draft Ammonia Strategy - the first of its kind for Northern Ireland - and is keen for anyone with an interest to participate and provide their views.


DAERA recognises that ammonia emissions have adverse effects on nature and public health and need to be reduced significantly in the years ahead.

Dave Foster, DAERA’s Director of Natural Environment Policy said: “The draft strategy, which was developed under the leadership of the Department’s former Minister Edwin Poots, recognises that agriculture makes a significant contribution to the Northern Ireland economy. However, those farming practices contribute to ammonia emissions, which in turn have adverse effects on nature and public health. 

“The draft strategy also recognises that rigorous action on ammonia is needed in the coming years and that it is important that we find the right approach that helps our local farm businesses and rural communities thrive and be sustainable while at the same time protecting our environment.”

Northern Ireland has almost 250 sites designated for protection which are sensitive to the impacts of ammonia and nitrogen. DAERA has legal obligations to ensure these sites are protected. The vast majority of designated sites are currently experiencing ammonia concentrations and nitrogen deposition above the critical levels and loads at which damage to plants may occur.

Dave Foster continued: “We know that we need to take action in the coming years to reduce the levels of ammonia if we are to achieve the improved outcomes we all want to see when it comes to nature and to public health, while also supporting local farming.

“Finding the right pathway to improvement will be crucial and we are keen to have as many views as possible from as wide a cross-section of the population on the measures proposed in the strategy.

“We would therefore encourage all interested parties to submit their views on the consultation before the closing date of 23:59 on Friday 3 March 2023."

Download the consultation from the DAERA website.

Responses to this consultation will inform a reworked strategy with proposed targets for 2030 that can secure the restoration of biodiversity, ecosystems, and the services they provide, while also facilitating the sustainable development of a prosperous agri-food industry.  That strategy will be brought to incoming ministers and a new Executive for approval.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Ammonia is a form of nitrogen released largely through the management of slurries and manures and the spreading of fertiliser. Ammonia is a particular issue for Northern Ireland due to the predominance of livestock farming.
  2. Northern Ireland has 6% of the UK land area and 3% of the population and is responsible for 12% of UK ammonia emissions. 97% of ammonia emission in Northern Ireland come from the agriculture sector. Between 2009 and 2019, ammonia emissions from agriculture in Northern Ireland increased by almost 19% and have reached levels similar to those experienced at peak levels in the late 1990s. Sustained and tangible reductions in ammonia are required to protect nature, to meet Northern Ireland’s legal obligations, and to ensure a sustainable agri-food sector.
  3. The draft ammonia strategy sets targets for ammonia reduction in Northern Ireland, in line with the UK’s international commitments, and outlines a strategic approach to achieving these targets. It also proposes actions to protect our vulnerable habitats.
  4. We are also developing a Call for Evidence to inform a new operational protocol to assess the impacts of air pollution on the natural environment and we aim to publish this separately in 2023.
  5. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office.
  6. Follow DAERA on Twitter  and Facebook.
  7. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays

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