Helen Venn, the OEP’s Chief Regulatory Officer, said: “We welcome the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs’ (DAERA’s) confirmation that the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) will no longer rely on its published Ammonia Standing Advice, commonly referred to as ‘the Operational Protocol’.
“During the course of our investigation (1) into the ‘Operational Protocol’, information came to light which caused concern about its compliance with environmental law (2).
“Following NIEA’s decision to remove a pause on its use in September, the OEP sent a Judicial Review Pre-Action letter to DAERA and the NIEA requesting that they immediately cease relying on the Operational Protocol to provide advice to planning authorities.
“It is important that DAERA and NIEA comply with environmental laws, which are in place to protect Northern Ireland’s environment from harm.
“We will now take time to consider DAERA’s and NIEA’s latest decision and what this means for our investigation. We will maintain an active interest in this important matter while we decide our next steps.
“Our priority is always to seek the best possible outcome for the environment.”
Notes to editors
- The OEP launched its investigation into DAERA’s advice on ammonia emissions on 23 May, 2023. The DAERA guidance that is being investigated is the Standing Advice on Livestock Installations. Find more information here.
- The Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995.
- The main source of ammonia in Northern Ireland comes from livestock manure and is deposited as nitrogen. Ammonia can cause serious damage to the biodiversity of the environment and people’s health.
- The OEP’s strategy and enforcement policy can be found here.