UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering Researchers attend Interagency Meeting “Ammonia and Natura 2000” in Belfast

Nitrogen deposition, particularly ammonia, represents a significant pressure to sensitive semi-natural habitats in the UK and Ireland. Decisions for permitting installations releasing ammonia are made in the context of high background levels that are often already exceeding environmental benchmarks.


The Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is funding the “AmmoniaN2K” research project, which is led by UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering in partnership with the University of West of England (UWE). The study will quantify and assess the impact of ammonia emissions from intensive pig and poultry units on Natura 2000 sites in Ireland.


Many of the issues faced by the Irish EPA and covered by this research project are shared by UK statutory nature conservation bodies and pollution regulators. These agencies have also been undertaking research to improve their assessment approaches and to look at remedies for tackling ammonia impacts. In some cases, for example Northern Ireland, a large expansion of the poultry industry is bringing additional challenges for permitting and protecting Natura 2000 sites and Areas/Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

Interagency meeting - Kelleghan presentation

UCD School of Biosystems & Food Engineering PhD student David “Dáithí” Kelleghan addressing the group in relation to the AmmoniaN2K project.

The focus of the interagency meeting, held in Belfast on the 17th and 18th of October 2016, was to encourage a conversation between different state bodies and stakeholders from the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.  Researchers from the AmmoniaN2K project, in addition to steering committee members, were invited to attend and discuss their work. The research conducted by David Kelleghan, Dr. Tom Curran (UCD) and Dr. Enda Hayes (UWE) on ammonia emissions from pig and poultry houses in Ireland was the focus of the afternoon discussions, in addition to building detailed atmospheric dispersion models from which a national ecological assessment could be conducted.

Interagency meeting - Ballynahone bog

Excursion to bog downwind of intensive pig and poultry house In Derry where passive ammonia sampling is being conducted.

The meeting was attended by: David “Dáithí” Kelleghan, Tom Curran (University College Dublin), Pat Byrne, Ciara Maxwell, John McEntagart (Environmental Protection Agency, Republic of Ireland), Andy Bleasdale, Barry O’Donoghue (National Parks and Wildlife Service, Republic of Ireland), David Dodd (Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Republic of Ireland), William Burchill (Teagasc, Republic of Ireland), Claire Whitfield (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), Susan Zappala (Natural England), Simon Bareham, Khalid Aazem, Jeremy Walters (Natural Resources Wales), Claire Campbell (Scottish Environment Protection Agency), Mike Shepard (Scottish Natural Heritage), Paul Corbett (Department of the Environment, Northern Ireland), Sara McGuckin , Keith Finegan, Barry McAuley, David Bruce, Charlotte Stewart (Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Northern Ireland).

Further information of the AmmoniaN2K project is available here

The project can also be followed on Twitter here