Farmhouse Lives Again
Thursday, 21 January 2010 11:28

TAKING a professional approach to obtaining planning permission yielded dividends for Hillsborough farmer Michael Magowan.

“Having acquired a farm with derelict dwelling at Cabra, a townland where my family have farmed for three generations, we needed planning permission, “ Michael recalled.

Smiles of success from the team, who made Cabra Cottage live again as a rural dwelling blending into the rolling drumlin landscape of Co Down. Michael and Vanessa Magowan with architect Jiradej Ermongkonchai, left, and planning consultant Lee Hannigan, right, of Knox and Clayton, Lisburn, a practice with 25 years experience of working with clients and the planning service.

“We turned to architects Knox and Clayton in Lisburn, who more than lived up to their promise to provide a professional service based on working with clients to meet Planning Service requirements.

“Fees were known from the start and we were impressed with the ethical approach taken by the Knox & Clayton team, which includes planners and architects. I like the way practice planners Claire Williamson and Lee Hannigan, working with architect Jiradej Ermongkonchai, are up front in telling clients just what is possible. A much better approach than raising false hopes of gaining planning permission.

” Planner Claire Williamson, like all in the Knox & Clayton practice, brought not only professional expertise to handling the Magowans’ planning application, but an understanding of the rural community. Claire’s husband coming from a family of prominent British Blue cattle breeders.

“Obtaining planning permission to restore this vernacular dwelling was a key part of returning a farm long let in conacre back to full agricultural use,” Claire explained.

Cabra Cottage when Hillsborough farmers Michael and Vanessa Magowan made a planning application.

“The house, though only ever used as a dwelling, had scarcely been lived in since the 1950s, until permission was obtained for the renovation of the building for a farm workers dwelling. Meanwhile Michael and Vanessa developed the farm business to create full time employment for one by specialising in soft fruit and flowers along with cereals and some sheep.

“A house has been on this site since at least 1831, but it is much older as, although outer walls are stone built, internal divisions were “sod” walls.

“The existing dwelling, then in near ruins, was only 760 sq ft, but planning permission was obtained for 925 sq ft. Under more recent planning policy Knox and Clayton gained approval for an extension, uplifting the floor area of the previous approval by 1818 sq ft, however this has yet to be built.

“The end result is a cottage of unusual comfort and charm amidst the rolling drumlins of Co. Down just 10 mins from Lisburn.

Cabra Cottage today

“Now planning regulations draft Planning Policy Statement 21 (PPS21) encourage more such re-use of non-listed vernacular buildings. Under draft PPS21 much greater emphasis is placed on the retention of vernacular rural buildings, which are important to the countryside landscape. The development of the countryside under the Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland resulted in the growth of what is now widely referred to as “bungalow blight”, which is also a problem commonly seen throughout the beautiful landscapes of the Republic of Ireland. In draft PPS21 the replacement of existing dwellings remains important for the upgrade and renewal of the rural housing stock.

“Lessons have been learned from other regions of the UK where ‘barn conversions,’ the re-use of former farm buildings as homes, holiday lets or business premises have long been a means of rejuvenating the rural economy.

“Currently draft PPS21 can offer an opportunity to develop redundant farm buildings or build afresh adjacent to a farmhouse and farmyard cluster.”

With further reforms of planning regulations due this spring practice planner Lee Hannigan suggests those with an interest in obtaining planning permission should contact Knox & Clayton, tel; (028) 9267 4312 for a free initial consultation at their office, or arrangements can be made to visit your home or the site.

Lizzie's Extra Beef Expo Role
Thursday, 21 January 2010 11:22

Lizzie RodgersLIZZIE Rodgers of Ballynahinch, Co Down is extra busy having taken on a new role helping organise seminars at the NBA Beef Expo NI event on Tues, March 2.

“The National Beef Association is holding this one day event for the first time in NI so every member of our regional committee, chaired by Oisin Murnion, has taken on a specific role,” explained Lizzie, a farmer’s wife and mother of three.

“During the day long Beef Expo NI event at Dungannon Farmers’ Mart, as well as livestock competitions and large numbers of trade stands’ there is a series of seminars. These practical presentations on topics as varied as animal health, breeding, CAP, conacre, capital gains and inheritance taxes run throughout the day,

“ With the finale from 4pm onwards an ‘Agricultural Question Time’ complete with a panel of specialists taking questions from the floor. I am really excited about the quality of speakers coming to Dungannon on Tues, March 2 for Beef Expo NI. 

People such as outspoken industry commentator Justin McCarthy and, of course, NBA director Kim Haywood.

“Equally impressive is the support from breed societies and leading breeders, who are taking stand space alongside an array of farm supply businesses.”

For further details of Beef Expo NI 2010 contact event co-ordinator Euan Emslie tel; (0044) 7718 908523, e mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

War Role for Farm Waste Plastic
Thursday, 21 January 2010 11:03

WASTE plastic collected from farms across the UK will help soldiers to more effectively engage the enemy in 21st century conflicts thanks to an innovative Scottish company.

Training with small arms has always involved soldiers adopting fire positions best suited to the terrain that they occupy. Current operations overseas have Identified the need to fire from and use cover behind the characteristic domed roofs of Middle Eastern structures.

Solway Firing Domes will provide awkward prone firing positions on UK forces training ranges.

This required the addition of realistic range furniture on purpose built training ranges thus giving soldiers experience of live firing from an “awkward” prone position. The Solway Pig Pens seemed to be an ideal starting point for a design based on configuration, durability and little or no `through life` costs.

Trials at the Defence Training Estate, South East, DTE SE, proved the viability of the choice and with some simple modifications this “off the shelf” pig pen has proved to be entirely fit for purpose”.

As Jim Muir of Solway Recycling explained, “MOD procurement officials viewing the company website realised pig arks made from Stokboard, which is produced by recycling farm waste plastic, were potential firing domes! “We tried several designs and made amendments after live firing trials to meet MOD requirements. All very worthwhile as an order has been placed for over a 100 firing domes going to UK training camps used by British forces early in 2010.

Solway Firing Domes will provide awkward prone firing positions on UK forces training ranges.

“Our complete loop recycling of waste plastic collected from farms nationwide means it is turned into Stokboard to make a range of robust products such as pig arks, calf lodges, creep feeders and lambing pens used again by farmers.

Indeed Solway Recycling collects waste plastic from many tenanted farms on Ministry of Defence training areas such as Otterburn and Larkhill.” Solway firing domes are not only rust and maintenance free, but minimise injuries to users and damage to their equipment.

Tipp Vet to Represent Ireland
Monday, 17 August 2009 09:49

Veterinary surgeon Dr Folke Rohrssen forsakes his busy south Tipperary mixed practice for three weeks this August to represent Ireland in the World Pair Driving Championship.

A prestigious bi-annual event held this year in Kecskemet, Hungary where carriage driving draws crowds of 200,000, hardly surprising given the host nation’s Magyar tradition of horsemanship.

“Carriage driving pairs is a truly exciting sport and competing for Ireland a huge honour, thought it is also a major commitment,” explained Folke in perfect English acquired, complete with Tipperary accent, since coming to Ireland in 1987 from Germany.

“We will be away for 22 days starting with a five day drive from Tipperary to a training camp within 20 miles of the competition grounds at Kecskemet. Then follows a week of acclimatisation and training before the competition from 19 to 23 August and that five day drive home.

Interchem Ireland area manager John Maloney, left, presents Tipperary vet Dr Folke Rohrssen with sponsorship, including Duvaxyn West Nile Virus Vaccine from Fort Dodge Animal Health, towards the cost of representing Ireland at the World Pair Driving Championships in Hungary. Pat O’Callaghan, managing director Interchem, noting that Irish horses have no natural immunity to West Nile Virus

“At international level pairs carriage driving is a costly sport, especially as it involves three horses, a pair and a spare! However support is coming in from the Irish Horse Board, practice clients and suppliers such as Interchem and Fort Dodge Animal Health.

“The very welcome package of support from Interchem Ireland Ltd and Fort Dodge Animal Health includes the just launched West Nile Virus vaccine Duvaxyn WNV. In fact ours are the first Irish horses to be vaccination against West Nile Virus before competing on the continent.

“Hungary has reported several cases, some fatal, of West Nile Virus in equines over this past two years. Though the risk of infection with this virus is relatively low, it’s still a threat, particularly as the competition is being held when the mosquito vectors are most active.

“Using Duvaxyn WNV vaccine now gives us time to complete the primary course and develop some degree of protection in our horses. Important as Irish equines have no natural immunity to West Nile Virus.

” Wishing Team Rohrssen all the best in their first world championship InterChem MD Pat O’Callaghan noted that, “Given the presence of West Nile Virus in some former Soviet bloc nations anyone taking horses into Eastern Europe should seek advice from their veterinary surgeon about vaccination with Duvaxyn WNZ, which offers immunological protection to vulnerable equines.

” For Folke carriage driving pairs is very much a sport involving all the family with 14 year old daughter Sophie, for example, enjoying the exciting role of back step groom. Indeed the youngest members of the Rohrssen family, twin boys aged two, are strapped into the rear seat during some training drives!

Though carriage driving had long interested the Stuttgart native it was only six year ago that the chance arose for Folke to try first single and then pairs horse carriage driving.

“Nothing quite matches the excitement of pairs carriage driving, especially with our Gelderlander horses, a Dutch breed used by over half those taking part in this sport. First bred in the Netherlands as stylish carriage horses that could also do some farm work the Gelderlander has a very impressive step, strong bones and great stamina with an ability to keep going even with a few knocks.

“They are very intelligent with a terrific willingness to learn, but like all horses competing at international level they require a major financial commitment. Hence, along with the other two teams from Ireland driven by Barry Capstick and Edwin Bryson we welcome further sponsorship,” emphasized Folke.

To see how you can support your national team in Hungary visit

Less Gas More Growth
Monday, 17 August 2009 09:44

LESS gas and more growth from high sugar grass swards is putting a Northern Ireland seed merchant at the heart of a drive to increase milk and meat output off grass, yet reduce greenhouse gas emissions from livestock. Samuel McCausland Ltd in Banbridge, founded in 1825 and still a family firm, are now supplying local farmers with Aber High Sugar Grasses through merchants and co-ops.

Bred at Aberystwyth in Wales these can increase milk production from grass by over two litres a day, give a 20% boost to weight gain in beef cattle and offer similar improvements in lamb growth.

Everyone wants quality and quantity in their sward and in their silo, but when   reseeding also plan to meet new gas emissions livestock regulations

Just as important, livestock grazing swards based on Aber High Sugar varieties produce less potentially harmful greenhouse grasses. GAS

Paddy Boyd, a spokesman for Samuel McCausland explained that farmers reseeding now with Aber varieties benefit not only from lower cost production of milk and meat, but are well placed to meet forthcoming EU regulations restricting the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock enterprises.

“Reseeding with the most up to date varieties of grass makes sound economic sense for many years ahead. Remember, the difference in output from a merely average recommended variety and the latest Aber High Sugar Grasses can be the difference between profit and loss.

In addition the increased efficiency means that less Nitrogen is released to the environment. It is also expected, but not yet proved that methane emissions are similarly reduced.


“Looking to the future needs of farmers and demands of government regulators Samuel McCausland Ltd developed close links with grass breeders, links now yielding huge dividends for Northern Ireland farmers. “Grass sown this month will still be used to produce milk and redmeat five, ten or even 15 years from now when greenhouse gas emissions from stock will be heavily regulated.

“Thankfully, through out network of stockists province wide McCausland’s Aber High Sugar Grasses are easily available to everyone reseeding this year. For minimal extra spend an acre on Aber premium mixes farmers enjoy more income off grass and limit harmful gas emissions for years to come,” Paddy Boyd affirmed.

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