Ulster Farmers’ Union challenges farm waste regulations

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has taken the first steps in a legal challenge against the Department of Environment for Northern Ireland over its implementation of new Farm Waste Regulations.

The DoE, as elsewhere in the UK, is insisting on farmers applying individually for farm waste exemptions. These are needed to perform tasks such as putting old tyres on silage clamps, using rubble to repair farm tracks and burning old fencing posts.

But the UFU says this demand for individual exemptions runs counter to written advice it has received from the EU Commission and is a blatant example of UK authorities “gold-plating” an EU Directive.

Complicated system

“We believe it is not acceptable that a local government department is imposing a complicated registration system on every farm business in Northern Ireland, when it is clear that a much simpler, generic registration for the entire industry is acceptable to the EU Commission,” said UFU president Kenneth Sharkey.

The DoE has been urging Northern Ireland’s 27,000 farmers to register for individual waste exemptions before 31 July 2007.

But the UFU has advised its members that, while this is a legal requirement, farmers may wish to wait until nearer the deadline, to see the outcome of legal proceedings. The UFU’s baristers were due to see a High Court judge today (20 April) to see if there were grounds for a judicial review.

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