28 November 1997

Dip laws could be stiffer – and at users cost

By FWlivestock reporters

USERS of sheep dip could face extra costs from next year for inspection and approval by the Environment Agency of dip sites and disposal arrangements, and an annual charge for disposing of used dip on to land.

New government proposals, discussed at last weeks NSA Sheep Health and Welfare conference in Malvern, Worcs, mean sheep producers are likely to have to notify authorities of where and when they are dipping and seek EA approval for dip disposal. Producers could be banned from disposing of dip on unsuitable land. Under the proposals, the EA would also be given powers to stop practices which were likely to increase pollution risk, such as siting dippers next to rivers.

The legislation is required as part of a EU directive, but increasing concern over careless disposal of synthetic pyrethroid dips and resulting pollution are also worrying the EA. Statistics revealed at the conference showed SPs have severely damaged river life in sheep producing areas, including over 150km in Cumbria alone.

SP dips are the main target of the extra controls but it is thought charges would be for all dips.

According to a senior EA spokesman charges for inspections and approvals are a feature of the directive and while the EA wanted to work with the farming industry, not put it out of business, it seemed likely that some charges would be made. The NFU has said it will be seeking to ensure the controls are sensible, practical and least-cost.

EA pollution prevention manager David Griffths said that a significant minority of producers were using and disposing of dips unsafely. He said the agency would take an increasingly tough line on careless use and disposal.

"We will not hesitate to prosecute where there is evidence that farmers have caused pollution."

The government is still drawing up the legislation, which is likely to go out to public consultation in the next few months. EA officials expect the guidelines to come into force by mid-1998.

Mr Griffths urged producers to employ good practice. "Store dip upright in a dry, secure place. Locate dippers as far away as possible from watercourses or drains. Ensure the dipper is in good condition, and drip pens have impervious floors which drain back into the bath."

He warned against over-filling the bath, and said that drinking water should be supplied for freshly-dipped sheep. "Dont allow them to enter a watercourse to drink."

Disposal of dip should be only on suitable land, at least 10m (33ft) away from any watercourse or 50m (165ft) away from any water source. Avoid steeply sloping, under-drained, waterlogged or frozen land, and areas important to wildlife.

&#8226 Sheep Health and Welfare conference report on p42.

PROPOSED LEGISLATION

&#8226 Notification of where and when dipping.

&#8226 Disposal approval required.

&#8226 Charges for disposal of used dip to land.