I am very pleased to say the Environment Agency has brought forward plans to regulate the agricultural composting industry by bringing all operators under regulation, rather than some being exempt as we see, and smell, at present.
Over the last 3 years many residents have raised the issue of composting and the foul smells drifting across the Howdenshire villages of Spaldington, Brind, Wressle, Holme on Spalding Moor, Eastrington and North Howden.
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. 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. It was clear that the past regime of self-policing was not working for this small minority of composters
The composting of animal by-products has been a concern to me, especially if the raw materials are transported from far away, not composted correctly or for sufficient time, resulting in the foulest smells imaginable.
Many of you will recall that I originally raised the issue of composting in a motion to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, after which the Council’s Environment and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee looked further into the issue, the Council then expressed its concerns to the Government’s Environment Agency.
The Environment Agency also wants to see operators attend formal training, which along with the proposed permitting and regulation will have a cost implication for the composters, although in fairness many other industries require operators to undergo training before being able to carry out work. (e.g. CORGI registration for gas heating engineers)
Bringing all composting operations into the general permitting framework and undergoing formal training 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 than yet another stealth tax.
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 this means the whole industry is being made to pay for the actions of the few.
David Davis MP and I have worked closely on this for a considerable time, and he was able to add his weight to the case by raising the issue with the Shadow Minister and the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency.
David adds; “I welcome the plans for more rigorous inspection and regulation of the agricultural composting industry. A great many of my constituents have had to put up with vile smells associated with composting animal by-products for far too long as some operators have been working outside regulation through an exemption. For to long the inspection regime on this unpleasant Industry has been to lax it is time to put this right”
“It is essential that the charges should cover the full cost of the proposed inspection and regulation. Firm regulation is needed whatever the cost, which should be borne by the composters and not the taxpayer.”