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New controls on agricultural waste

Defra : 31 March, 2006  (Company News)
Regulations made today apply waste management controls to agricultural waste for the first time in England and Wales. The new Regulations will come into force on 15 May 2006 and will apply the same controls on agricultural waste that have applied to all other sectors of industry for many years.
These new controls not only strengthen environmental protection but also encourage the minimisation and recycling of agricultural waste.

About 400,000 tonnes of agricultural waste is produced each year. It includes old pesticide containers, silage wraps, tyres, batteries and oil. Manure and slurry are not a waste when used as a fertiliser.

Local Environmental Quality Minister Ben Bradshaw said:

'For many years agriculture has been excluded from our national waste management controls. The new Regulations will extend existing waste management controls to agricultural waste for the first time.

'This change is a real opportunity to develop a practical system for minimising and managing agricultural waste. Waste is often a hidden business cost. I hope that farmers up and down the country see the changes more as a business opportunity than a regulatory burden.'

Ben Bradshaw stressed that farmers will need to stop using farm dumps immediately or farmers will face additional costs:

'Farmers must stop using their farms dumps to dispose of their waste before the Regulations come into force on 15 May.

'Any farmer who continues to use a farm dump from 15 May will be required to close it down in accordance with the requirements of the Regulations.'

Farmers will have 5 basic options for dealing with their waste, which can be used on their own or in combination:

Store their waste on-farm for up to 12 months.
Take their waste for recycling or disposal off-farm at a licensed site.
Get an authorised waste contractor to take their waste away.
Register license exemptions with the Environment Agency to recycle or dispose of their waste on-farm. Farmers can register at any stage during the first 12 months of the Regulations.

Apply to the Environment Agency for a waste management license or a landfill permit to recycle or dispose of their waste on-farm. For most farmers obtaining a landfill permit for their farm dump will not be a viable option because of the engineering requirements and costs involved.
There are transitional arrangements for most other recycling and disposal activities on-farm.

Farmers will have 12 months to register licence exemptions with the Environment Agency or to apply to them for a licence.

Licence exemptions are a 'light-touch' method of environmental control and are used to encourage the recycling of waste. A wide range of licence exemptions will be available to farmers, all of them free of charge for agricultural waste.

The Environment Agency is producing an 'Exemptions Pack' to help farmers register their exemptions. Farmers can register exemptions online (England only), by phoning the Environment Agency on 0845 603 3113 or in writing. Farmers are free to choose, and each option is straightforward.

Defra's Environment Sensitive Farming programme provides workshops, seminars and self-help groups across all regions on all aspects of farm management including waste. Farmers and growers who attend will be given practical advice on how to minimise their waste, and can find out where and when ESF events are being held by calling 0845 6023864.

The Environment Agency has already issued a series of guidance notes explaining the impact of the Regulations and advising farmers on what they should do.

The Agricultural Waste Stakeholders' Forum and the Environment Agency have developed and launched a Recycling Directory to help farmers find local sites and companies that can take their waste. Visit for more details.

The effect of section 75(7)(c) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 is to exclude agricultural waste from the controls that apply to all other types of waste. In December 2004 the European Court of Justice issued a judgment confirming the exclusion contravenes the Waste Framework Directive. The same exclusion applies to the controls implementing the Landfill Directive. The existing controls now being applied to agricultural industry have applied to all other industrial sectors since May 1994 in the case of the Waste Framework Directive and since June 2002 in the case of the Landfill Directive. The purpose of the controls is to ensure that waste is recycled or disposed of in ways that protect the environment and human health.

The Agricultural Waste Stakeholders' Forum was set up to advise on the development of the Regulations which have now been made. Members include representatives from government, farming organisations, waste management companies and farm suppliers. Information about the Forum and agricultural waste is available on the Defra website at A draft of the Regulations was issued for public consultation in December 2004. The main consultation was sent to 495 organisations and a summary, with a pull-out questionnaire, was sent to 162,000 farmers and growers in England and Wales. The consultation report is available on the Defra website at:
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