Don’t get caught off­side by plan­ning laws’ fine de­tail

Irish Independent - Farming - - FINANCE FARMING - THERESA MUR­PHY

DE­VEL­OP­MENT and moderni­sa­tion is key to busi­ness suc­cess and a farm is no dif- fer­ent.

In many in­stances this re­quires farmers to de­velop, con­struct and ex­tend the fa­cil­i­ties on their farms. How­ever, there are a num­ber of po­ten­tial plan­ning ob­sta­cles that should be kept in mind be­fore un­der­tak­ing any de­vel­op­ment works.

Ir­ish plan­ning laws have come un­der fire on many oc­ca­sions in re­cent years and in a re­cent case heard in Gal­way District Court, there was a par­tic­u­larly crit­i­cal view taken of the lo­cal coun­cil’s pros­e­cu­tion of a 64year-old farmer who had erected a num­ber of pil­lars and gates on his land. He was us­ing these to gather his sheep ei­ther for load­ing on to trucks, shear­ing or dip­ping.

Gal­way County Coun­cil had con­tended that it was sim­i­lar to a cat­tle crush and that it was an autho­rised struc­ture that re­quired plan­ning per­mis­sion.

Type of farm de­vel­op­ments

How­ever, although he found in the coun­cil’s favour, Judge John King was crit­i­cal of the de­ci­sion to pros­e­cute this mat­ter say­ing it was “like us­ing a can­non to swat a fly”. This case raised the is­sue of what type of farm de­vel­op­ments may re­quire plan­ning per­mis­sion and what de­vel­op­ments are ex­empted from the need for plan­ning per­mis­sion.

De­vel­op­ment is gen­er­ally de­fined in plan­ning leg­is­la­tion as mean­ing the car­ry­ing out of works on, in, over or un­der land, or the mak­ing of any ma­te­rial change in the use of land or build­ings.

Any such works re­quire plan­ning per­mis­sion un­less they are ex­empted.

De­ter­min­ing if a de­vel­op­ment re­quires plan­ning per­mis­sion in ad­vance should be an im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion for farmers con­sid­er­ing ap­ply­ing for any grant -aided de­vel­op­ments.

In many cases, if plan­ning is found to have been a re­quire­ment af­ter the works are car­ried out, there may be a claw back of grant aid.

While there are a num­ber of dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties of build­ing/ struc­ture which are ex­empted from the re­quire­ment of plan­ning per­mis­sion on farms, one of the most com­monly used ex­emp­tion is a Type 1, which is a roofed struc­ture hous­ing cat­tle, sheep, don­keys, horses, deer or rab­bits, pro­vided that its floor area does not ex­ceed 200 square me­tres and that the to­tal floor area of all Type 1 struc­tures within the farm­yard com­plex (or 100 me­tres of it) does not ex­ceed 300 square me­tres.

Another com­mon ex­emp­tion is a Type 3 which in­cludes milk­ing par­lours and silage mak­ing/ stor­age struc­tures on the same terms. Type 4 ex­empted de­vel­op­ments in­clude a store, barn, shed, glasshouse etc not ex­ceed­ing 300 square me­tres in floor area and not used for hous­ing an­i­mals or stor­ing ef­flu­ent — pro­vided that the to­tal floor area of all Type 3 struc­tures within the farm­yard com­plex (or 100 me­tres of it) does not ex­ceed 900 square me­tres.

Many of the ex­emp­tions listed that ap­ply to farm build­ings and struc­tures do not ap­ply in ar­eas of con­ser­va­tion.

Cer­tain types of other ac­tiv­i­ties are ex­empted de­vel­op­ment for the pur­pose of the reg­u­la­tions in­clud­ing land recla­ma­tion (in­clud­ing field drainage, re­moval of fences, im­prov­ing ex­ist­ing fences, im­prove­ment of hill graz­ing or recla­ma­tion of es­tu­ar­ine marsh land or cal­lows), in­ten­sive agri­cul­ture, pro­vided the land in­volved is less than 100 hectares, re­place­ment of broadleaf high for­est by conifer species pro­vided the area in­volved is less than 10 hectares.

Some fur­ther points to note is that ex­empted farm build­ings may only be used for agri­cul­ture.

Build­ings and struc­tures must have ad­e­quate slurry/ef­flu­ent stor­age for its size, use and lo­ca­tion, and sat­isfy Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture re­quire­ments in this re­gard even if the de­vel­op­ment is ex­empt from plan­ning per­mis­sion.

There is a min­i­mum dis­tance re­quire­ment from a pub­lic road of at least 10 me­tres. Also the height above ground level must not ex­ceed 8 me­tres within 100 me­tres of any pub­lic road

Dis­tance from any house (other than own), school, church, hos­pi­tal or pub­lic build­ing must be at least 100 me­tres un­less con­sent is ob­tained in writ­ing from the owner or oc­cu­pier or per­son in charge. Un­painted metal sheet­ing can­not be used for roof­ing or side cladding.

The ac­com­pa­ny­ing re­quire­ments are too numer­ous to list in full. You should al­ways en­gage a pro­fes­sional be­fore com­menc­ing any kind of struc­ture to de­ter­mine whether plan­ning per­mis­sion is re­quired.

Plan­ning per­mis­sion applications

The fees payable to the lo­cal author­ity for agri­cul­tural build­ings are €80 for each build­ing, or €1 for each square me­tre of gross floor area in ex­cess of 200 square me­tres, which­ever is the greater.

This is sub­ject to a max­i­mum of €300. Fees for the re­ten­tion of unau­tho­rised struc­tures are one and a half to three times the nor­mal rate. It should be noted that the gross floor area com­prises the to­tal in­ter­nal floor area and in­cludes the feed pas­sage over­hang.

A news­pa­per no­tice must be placed two weeks prior to mak­ing the plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion. The full page of the news­pa­per show­ing the no­tice must be sub­mit­ted with the ap­pli­ca­tion.

The site no­tice must also be erected two weeks be­fore the ap­pli­ca­tion is made and must now be re­tained on the site for a min­i­mum pe­riod of five weeks from the date a valid ap­pli­ca­tion is re­ceived by the plan­ning author­ity. A copy must be sub­mit­ted with the ap­pli­ca­tion.

Most plan­ning author­i­ties have a doc­u­ment avail­able on their web­sites called “Mak­ing a Plan­ning Ap­pli­ca­tion” free for down­load. It out­lines what ex­actly has to be sub­mit­ted to the author­ity for a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion to be pro­cessed.

As with any leg­is­la­tion, plan­ning laws and the ex­emp­tions and re­quire­ments for de­vel­op­ment are de­tailed and com­plex and as one Gal­way farmer learned, are to be taken se­ri­ously be­fore any ac­tions are un­der­taken on your farm. Do

IF PLAN­NING IS FOUND TO HAVE BEEN RE­QUIRED AF­TER WORKS ARE CAR­RIED OUT, THERE MAY BE A CLAW BACK OF GRANT AID

Farm build­ings ex­empt from nor­mal plan­ning re­quire­ments can in­clude milk­ing par­lours (sub­ject to the to­tal size of all build­ings on the farm) farm­[email protected]­de­pen­dent.ie

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