The NFU has been lobbying for clear, positive guidance to recognise the importance of polytunnels for farmers and growers.
Polytunnels are a flexible tool to protect crops from extreme weather and disease and to allow longer growing seasons. They can also have a role in animal welfare for livestock farmers.
New guidance came into force at the end of July which requires local authorities to acknowledge the importance of polytunnels in providing opportunities for home-grown produce and rural business. Planners have to make a decision as to whether they represent a ‘development’ for which permission is needed or qualify for the more simple 'prior approval'.
Where permission is needed, appropriate weight should be given to the agricultural and economic need for the development.