Monday 16 November 2020
MLAs are set to debate a Green Party NI motion calling for recognition of the scale of the ammonia pollution problem across Northern Ireland later today.
The motion further calls for a halt on planning approvals for any project which proposes to increase discharges of ammonia into the environment, until such time as the Department carries out a report on whether Northern Ireland planning policies are resulting in habitat directive breaches.
Ammonia emissions are toxic, damaging health and our natural world. Ammonia enters the atmosphere, combining with other air pollutants to make air toxic, harming human health by contributing to cardiovascular and respiratory disease.
Ammonia deposits, furthermore, cause direct damage to plant leaves, cause soil acidification and alter the susceptibility of plants to frost, insect species and invasive species. This has a knock on effect on our bird, animal and insect populations, contributing to serious species decline across Northern Ireland.
Clare Bailey MLA commented: "Ammonia emissions across Northern Ireland are of serious concern and means that air pollution is as much of a public health problem for rural communities as for cities and towns with high levels of traffic congestion.
"Ammonia emissions are also a contributory factor for species decline and the ecological crisis locally. We know that 98% of Northern Ireland's Special Areas of Conservation are blighted by the toxic impacts of ammonia pollution. There's no need to look to the rainforests for species decline when our native species are disappearing before our eyes.
"Rural communities and farmers are not to blame for the pollution problem. Government policies have incentivised and promoted intensive farming practices and are failing to address resultant ammonia emissions. Rural communities are paying the toxic price for the government's prioritisation of scale over sustainability.
"I'm calling for the Infrastructure Minister to press the pause button on all planning approvals for any project which proposes to increase discharges of ammonia into the environment. The Department needs to ensure compliance with environmental regulations and protect public health."
Sinead McIvor - 07701 302 498