FARMERS WHO no longer want authorisation to dispose of sheepdip or sprayer washings need to inform the Environment Agency or they will find themselves facing a bill of £129.

The agency is reminding farmers that annual charges for the permit were reintroduced on Apr 1, 2004.

Farmers who want to revoke their existing authorisations must do so by June 30, 2004 or they will get a bill.

“We know that some farmers who hold Groundwater Authorisation no longer dip sheep and in these circumstances they need to contact us before June 30 to discuss revoking the authorisation,” said agency officer Hilary Deighton.

“Any revocation requests received after this date will be subject to a pro-rata proportion of the annual fee from the date of notification,” Ms Deighton said.

The Groundwater Authorisation system came into force in 1999 and allows farmers to legally dispose of spent sheepdip and arable pesticides on their land.

The money raised through the charges will be spent on sampling watercourses and the periodic inspection of authorised disposal sites.

Ms Deighton said farmers who used mobile dipping facilities, which then take the dip away, also needed to check that the contractors involved were signed up to the scheme.

“They should check that the contractor holds an appropriate authorisation at another location. If a farmer is concerned that this is not the case then they should contact the Environment Agency immediately,” she said.

Anyone who discharges sheepdip or other pesticides on to ground without an authorisation is judged to be operating illegally and can be open to prosecution.

The penalty, if found guilty of the crime of causing pollution, is a fine of up to £20,000.

The Environment Agency has announced that it will also claim back the cost for any time spent investigating a pollution incident.

Failure to hold the appropriate authorisation may also result in a reduction in the new single farm payment.