31 March 2000

Burning issue denial…

THE Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) has hit back at criticism that it ignored the concerns of farmers and other rural businesses in EU consultations about new legislation controlling the use of incinerators (News, Mar 24).

The directive, which received its second reading on Mar 15 and now needs to be ratified by the Council of Ministers, imposes restrictions on incinerators with a view to reducing pollution.

Cost of compliance

The Countryside Alliance says a report by consultants to the DETR, ENTEC, estimates the cost of complying with the regulations at £200,000-£300,000, which is far beyond the reach of farmers and small rural businesses. But the DETR told farmers weekly this was a huge over-estimation of the real costs.

The CA and the NFU accused the DETR of overlooking the valuable use of incinerators to farmers and other rural businesses in its consultations. A national press report implied it failed to consult MAFF on the regulations.

But a DETR spokeswoman said MAFF, along with Whitehall departments, was consulted. She also said the UK tried to get exemptions for animal carcass incinerators, but failed to do so. The department will now look at how the burden of implementing the directive can be minimised.

The NFU called on environment minister Michael Meacher to use his position on the environment council to push for an amendment, providing UK farmers with an exemption from the rules.

NFU president Ben Gill said a precedent has been set by Italian tomato growers who have been made exempt from the directive.

The NFU says farmers will have to pay contractors to transport waste for disposal. The CA says farmers will also have to bury or otherwise dispose of waste.