Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Farmer wins planning battle to put up a fence on his own farm

In its objection An Taisce said there was no justification for agricultural or livestock fencing at the location. 
In its objection An Taisce said there was no justification for agricultural or livestock fencing at the location. 
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

A Donegal farmer recently won his planning battle with An Taisce over a sheep fence on his land.

Glencolumbcille farmer Patrick Heenan applied for permission to extend the sheep fencing on his farm and while he was initially granted permission by Donegal Co Council, subject to some conditions, An Taisce appealed the decision.

The land is within a designated Area of Especially High Scenic Amenity and is also designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and An Taisce objected to the proposed fence saying that it would be a visually intrusive and unsympathetic element in an elevated landscape and would contravene the provisions of the development plan.

It said the traditional open character of the upland commonage would be undermined by the proposed fence which would detract from the amenities of the landscape. 

It also said the fence would undermine and fail to give access to the mountains or other places of natural beauty or other places of natural beauty or recreational utility around the northern half of the Slieve League peninsula.

In its objection An Taisce also said there was no justification for agricultural or livestock fencing at the location. 

“Sheep have traditionally grazed unfenced commonage." It said the proposal would hive off part of the bog and compromise the landscape.

An Taisce said the development was not essential to the viability of the farm and does not comply with best practice.

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Extended Fencing

In July 2013, the planning authority granted permission for fencing on Heenan's land and this year he applied again to put up new fencing, one end of which would meet the 2013 fencing.

The fence Heenan proposed to erect a fence is around 2km in length and would link with existing fences at both ends and so enclose an area of c214ha. The post and wire fence was proposed be 0.9m high with timber posts would be c1.8m apart.

The planning authority decided to grant permission subject to four conditions. Among the conditions was the requirement to use low impact machinery and other measures to minimise erosion and damage to vegetation, the removal of waste and surplus material following completion of development and prohibited storage of fuel or the refuelling of vehicles in the SAC. 

Heenan said the site of the development is not commonage and is owned and farmed by the applicant. He also said there is already fencing in the area that was erected before the rules on Special Areas of Conservation. 

The farmer said the development is required to properly manage farm activities. He outlined that the land is adjacent to open commonage and is subject to trespass from other stock that could lead to overgrazing. 

He also said straying of stock also gives rise to concerns regarding health and safety, breeding and transmission of disease, and could cause disputes with neighbours. 


However, in his decision on the proposed development, the Bord Pleanála inspector said it would be in keeping with the established use of the site for sheep grazing. 

The inspector said it would be similar to other fences in the area. He outlined that It would not be likely to have a significant effect on the SAC in which it would stand, or on any other European site. 

He also said the proposed development would not have a negative impact on the scenic character of the area, or upon its potential for recreational use and that it would therefore be in keeping with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

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