Busy farmers who are struggling to fill in their farm waste exemption forms online ahead of this week’s deadline are being advised to get help to avoid fines.
Farm waste exemptions need to be registered with the Environment Agency in England or Natural Resources Wales in Wales by Monday 30 September.
Although the online form is only three pages, farmers have been complaining that reading through the 24 pages of guidance before completing it is extremely time-consuming. West Midlands livestock farmer and NFU vice-president Adam Quinney wrote on his Twitter account: “Just reading the SHORT guide on farm waste exemptions -24 pages, must be filled in by 1-10-13 #grumpyfarmer.”
NFU environment policy adviser Anna Simpson advised farmers who were too busy to read the guidance forms to watch a short, five-minute instructional video which was posted on YouTube on 19 September, called “Registering online for your agricultural waste exemptions as a partnership”.
Farmers in England who are still encountering problems filling in the form online can call the dedicated Environment Agency helpline from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday or request a paper form on 0845 603 3113.
Ms Simpson said: “Filling in the form online is relatively straightforward, but it could be a problem for farmers who do not have access to the internet or have very slow broadband.
“The YouTube instructional is very helpful, especially for busy farmers who don’t have enough time to read through all the guidance.”
Farm-based exemptions registered before 6 April are set to expire on 30 September 2013. It is a legal requirement to register under the new system before Monday (30 September). Those who do not meet the deadline could be liable to fines.
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “Thousands of farmers have successfully registered using our online tool, but the online process is not as simple as we would like and we are working to change it.
“As for now, if you do not want to go online, you can request an application form by ringing the agency – the form is simple to fill out.
“What may take a bit more time is reading the parts of the guidance note on agricultural waste exemptions that are relevant to your waste activities and the short number of conditions that apply.”
For more information visit the Environment Agency website.