15 February 2000
EA officials defend ‘polluter’ charges

By Isabel Davies

ENVIRONMENT Agency (EA) officials have defended their proposed charges for implementing the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive.

Giving evidence to an inquiry into environmental regulation and farming, Environment Agency officials on Monday (15 February) told MPs they had a duty to recover regulatory costs.

Pig and poultry farmers have been horrified by the EAs proposed charges for IPPC permits, which could lead to bills of thousands of pounds.

The EA has put forward an application charge of up to 18,000 and an annual subsistence charge of around 7000.

Producers affected include farmers who have units housing more than 750 sows, 2000 finishers over 30kg or 40,000 birds.

Existing units housing these numbers will require them by 2003 for poultry and 2004 for pigs. Bigger units will be subject to further charges.

Dr Paul Leinster, director of environmental protection, told MPs the charge covered the cost of an EA inspector both on- and off-farm, technical support, technical development and research and development.

He revealed the charges had been calculated based on an average requirement of 10-15 days per holding, using an average daily charge rate of 1215.

Environment minister Michael Meacher admitted there was no requirement to pass charges back to farmers, but told the committee that IPPC charges had not yet been settled.

The government was aware the proposed charges were high, and had asked the EA to look again, he said.

Afterwards National Farmers Union environment policy advisor Jacob Tompkins said the union was “very disappointed” with what it heard from the EA.

“We were expecting a lot more form the EA. The pig and poultry industries simply cannot bear that charge at the moment.”

Mr Tompkins noted that other countries had implemented the IPPC directive with far lower charges or none at all.

The NFU advocates general binding rules, which would decrease inspection time, as an alternative and is still discussing the matter with the EA.