‘Unfit’ waste leaves farmers with hefty bills

Bogus waste recovery operators targeting farms with unsuitable material for cow tracks and hard-standing are leaving farmers with big clean-up bills.

NFU Cymru says it is working closely with the Environment Agency after reports that farmers had agreed to have waste deposited on their land on the understanding that the operator would register the relevant permit or exemption.

“Of course, they do no such thing and once the waste has been deposited, farmers have been shocked to see that the waste was not as described, not fit for purpose and contrary to the permit or exemption conditions.  In some cases, this could lead to crop losses, damage to land or cause pollution of the local environment,’’ said the union’s president, Ed Bailey.

Waste materials, including builders’ rubble and soils, food and green wastes and composts, can be used on farms but farmers must have either an Environmental Permit or a waste exemption registered with the Environment Agency before it can be used.  Once waste is on a farm it becomes the farmer’s responsibility.

If it is unsuitable or breaches the conditions of a permit or exemption, it could lead to an investigation by the Environment Agency or the local authority and farmers would have to remove it at their own expense to a licensed facility. 

“Removal charges will include £56 per tonne landfill tax, landfill gate fees and transport costs which could add up to thousands of pounds where numerous truckloads of unsuitable waste have been deposited and have to be removed,’’ said Mr Bailey.