Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Environment Agency to bring agricultural composters under new regulations

The Environment Agency has at last brought forward plans to regulate the agricultural composting industry by bringing all operators under regulation. In my opinion this is very welcome, although the £1,590 charge for a licence and then £760 per year is causing some concerns within the industry, and particularly with the NFU.

The Environment Agency also wants to see composters attend a formal training course, which will also have a cost implication, although in fairness many other industries require operators to undergo training before being able to carry out work. This training may well cost in excess of £1,500.

The East Riding of Yorkshire is home to a significant number of composting operations, most of which cause very few problems and don’t come to the notice of residents, the Council, or the Environment Agency. I have a great deal of sympathy for those farmers, who have diversified into composting as a replacement for conventional fertilisers and operated in a responsible manner, and are now going to have to pay increased fees for regulation.

Unfortunately a small minority of composters operating under a licence exemption have not followed the rules and have caused serious odour problems for local residents and whole villages. The composting of animal by-products is a concern to me, especially if the raw materials are transported from far away, and not composted correctly or for sufficient time, resulting in the foulest smells imaginable.

It is clear that the past regime of self-policing has not worked for this small minority of composters, and it would appear that the new charges represent the industry being made to pay for the actions of the few.

Bringing all composting operations into the general permitting framework is a positive step and will be good for the industry as a whole, and certainly good for the public. It is always a question of balance between regulation and cost, and I would hope that the charges to be levied are based solely on the costs for regulation rather then yet another stealth tax.


stunk out at Spaldington said...

If the Environment Agency, DEFRA Animal Health and ERYC had enforced the existing regulations and stopped the minority cowboy operators from poisoning their neighbours and polluting the environment, then the rest of the industry who had been operating responsibly may not have ended up having to foot the bill. Why can the Environment Agency not enforce the regulations and MAKE THE POLLUTERS PAY?

Anonymous said...

And it is still stinking in Spaldington!! Lets hope that these new regulations are properly enforced and the penalties are high for those that don't comply.

Do pigs fly?

John in Gilberdyke said...

Here we go again with a government hell bent on extracting money from any source they can get it. Just watch - instead of drafting something sensible aimed at stopping the use of inappropriate materials for composting we shall end up with a garbled set of rules written by a student just out of college or someone never having set foot in the countryside. These "essential" new rules will no doubt encompass traditional muck etc as well as the intended target. Why not simply prohibit animal protein material from composting activities or use existing nuisance/pollution laws to stop the culprits in their tracks. Or is that too easy a solution?

Anonymous said...

Given the large amount of money these composters can charge for each load of animal bi-products they take in, the cost of the licence and training is peanuts in comparison. Most professional industries require members to attend formal training and be licenced. Why should composters be any different? We can but hope that the need to be "trained" to do the job properly will be too much for some of the most offensive smelling conposters to cope with and they will quit the job and stop plagueing the neighbourhood with the stench from their operations.

Anonymous said...

I can understand everyone's cynicism but at least something is happening, the most important thing is to make one body responsible instead of all the book passing that goes on at the moment

Anonymous said...

On the composting front can anyone explain why a certain "composter" near Spaldington receives most of his deliveries on Sundays Bank Holidays and evenings?
And have I seen liquid waste been delivered there as well or are my eyes playing tricks?