Most farmers carry out activities that need to be registered for a waste exemption under Environment Agency regulations. Those who have not already done so need to check what is affected, warns Strutt & Parker.

Common farm activities needing exemptions include the use of road plannings to improve and maintain farm tracks, burning hedge trimmings and using tyres on silage clamps, said the firm.

The use of rubble from a demolished farm building in the foundations of a new barn or shed would also be covered, as would using woodchip as a surfacing for a woodland path and burning waste wood and straw in burners used to heat buildings.

More than 80,000 farmers have already registered exemptions with the agency but the system changed on 6 April last year so that even those who have already registered also need to register under the new system. They have until 1 October 2013 to do this.

Those who have not previously registered their exemptions must do so immediately, warned Miss Hardy.

“Virtually all businesses produce waste and are therefore almost certain to need to register one or more exemptions, which also need to be renewed every three years,” said Miss Hardy.

“Do not get caught out. It is free to register but managing waste without an appropriate permit is a serious offence and the penalty, should the case go to court, is an unlimited fine or a possible prison sentence.”

Miss Hardy also urged those with no mains drainage to comply with new regulations and register septic tanks and sewage treatment plants with the EA. Most of these are exempt from the need to have an environmental permit, but all need to be registered with the EA before 31 December this year.

“Homeowners must act because if and when they come to sell their property they must pass on the written details of the exempt discharge to the new occupier. If you own property occupied by tenants it is your responsibility to register.

“To maintain exempt status, you need to keep to the registration conditions, which include undertaking proper inspection, operation and maintenance of your sewage system, regular removal of excess sludge by a properly authorised contractor and keeping records of maintenance and repair.”