Putting tyres on a clamp may be second nature to most farmers, but before next season’s silaging is over producers will need a specific exemption from the Environment Agency to avoid fines.
This is just one of the previous unregulated activities which will soon fall under the new Agricultural Waste Regulations, says land agents Webb Paton’s Mark Webb. “Although farmers are still permitted certain on-farm waste disposal – like burning hedge trimmings and using rubble as hardcore – they will need to fill out a waste disposal licence exemption.”
Previously allowed practices, such as burning waste in the open, using unlicensed farm tips, burying waste and disposal of farm waste in household bins are no longer sanctioned without appropriate licences.
A recent survey detailing the percentage of farmers who have registered for Agricultural Waste Exemptions shows that in most areas, less than 10% have completed forms.
“This is in no way indicative as to whether they need an exemption, as even routine farm tasks will require them,” adds Mr Webb.
It is free to apply, so farmers are urged to think about what they do on farm that may require a licence and if in doubt tick all the boxes they think will be relevant to their farm. “This way farmers have the flexibility to carry out routine tasks without standing the danger of being convicted or fined. Alongside the chance that farmers could be fined, farmers may be responsible for the costs of cleaning up any breaches that may occur.”
And although there is an obligation to fill in exemption forms, there is some added value in doing so, advises EA policy adviser, Cormac Quigley.
“Farmers should bear in mind that by filling in exemption forms they will be indicating to the EA a degree of environmental responsibility which may make their holdings less likely to be inspected.
Regulations are not aimed at increasing numbers of prosecution but at raising the importance of minimising waste and preventing pollution, both for farmers in terms of costs and for the environment, says Mr Quigley.
Waste regulations can also provide a chance for farms to diversify, adds Mr Quigley. “When they have the existing facilities on-farm, producers could turn regulations into a viable business option. This could be in the form of transporting waste, composting or incinerating.
“For those thinking of diversifying into waste management, be aware that a Waste Management Licence or a Pollution Prevention and Control Permit may be required beforehand. This option is not for someone who wants to continue to operate a farm dump or tip. All farm tips should now be closed, and converting sites to meet modern landfill specifications will be prohibitively expensive for most,” he adds.