Agricultural developers increasingly require an independent SCAIL Assessment to be undertaken as Natural England no longer provide this service.
What is a SCAIL Assessment?
A Simple Calculation of Atmospheric Limits (SCAIL) Assessment is a web based tool used to screen potential air quality effects on sensitive ecological designations as a result of ammonia emissions from agricultural activities. These can include structures, such as pig, poultry and cattle housing, litter or farm-yard manure storage and slurry lagoons.
What is the Issue?
Natural England have historically undertaken SCAIL Assessments on behalf of agricultural developers and farmers in order to ensure new proposals and associated ammonia emissions do not impact on statutory ecologically designated sites. However, it is understood that they no longer provide this service. This means that non-specialists are having to undertake this analysis, which can be particularly confusing for those not familiar with the SCAIL-Agriculture tool or lack the knowledge required to interpret the results, with any miscalculations subsequently leading to delays with the determination of planning applications.
Ammonia is a pollutant targeted for reduction in the UK government’s Clean Air Strategy. As a result, there is now more than ever greater attention on the duty the agricultural sector has to reduce its ammonia contribution and subsequent impact on important habitats. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has produced a ‘Code of Good Agricultural Practice for Reducing Ammonia Emissions‘ to support the government’s strategy. If you need help with understanding your ammonia impact then please do not hesitate to get in touch with one of our Agricultural Air Quality Specialists today or find out more by reading our news article ‘Ammonia Assessment in the UK‘.
How is a SCAIL Assessment Undertaken?
A SCAIL Assessment can be undertaken relatively quickly by a suitability qualified assessor. The proposals are first reviewed to determine inputs to the SCAIL-Agriculture model. These may include dimensions of new structures, livestock numbers and type, quantities of manure/ litter/ slurry generated and associated storage periods. Sensitive ecological designations within 10km of the development are then identified, which may include sites raised by Natural England as a concern, and the locations verified by the assessor through review of the MAGIC website.
Once the relevant details relating to the proposals and sensitive ecological receptor locations are defined, the SCAIL-Agriculture model is run. The assessor then compares the output with relevant assessment criteria. Should impacts be screened out then no further assessment is necessary. If exceedences are identified, then a more detailed analysis is undertaken. This usually includes a comprehensive Dispersion Modelling Assessment to investigate impacts further and determine any requirement for mitigation.
How Can We Help?
Redmore Environmental has the experience and knowledge to undertake SCAIL Assessments on your behalf and have done so for a wide range of agricultural developments throughout the UK. If you have submitted a planning application and require a SCAIL Assessment, need assistance with interpreting feedback from Natural England about the ammonia impact your development may have on statutory ecological sites or have undertaken a SCAIL Assessment and now require a Dispersion Modelling Assessment then please do not hesitate to get in touch with one of Agricultural Air Quality Specialists today to find out more about how we can help you obtain planning permission.