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NFU Lobbies Against Environment Agency Price Hikes

by 5m Editor
18 December 2009, at 9:47a.m.

UK - The National Farmers Union (NFU) is lobbying against price hikes for new environmental permits being proposed by the Environment Agency.

NFU says the move will affect farmers and growers involved in on-farm composting as well as those spreading materials such as compost to their land.

Under the proposed changes, current waste management activities that are carried out using chargeable, notifiable exemptions will be replaced by a new system of standard permits and see a huge jump in fees. Changes include:

  • a new permit for waste composting with charges of £1,590 per application and a £760 annual subsistence fee - which are currently free
  • a new permit for land-spreading waste increasing from around £575 per application and a £434 renewal fee to £1,590 per application fee and a £760 annual subsistence fee, and
  • and a proposed fee of £1,590 and £1,540 for application and subsistence for new permits covering on-farm anaerobic digestion plants.

There are also proposed across the board increases in baseline charges by one per cent as well as changes to the groundwater, water abstraction, IPPC and radioactive substances charging regimes. In addition, the Agency is creating a new standard permit for disposing of sheep dip which has been treated with enzymes to destroy toxic compounds.

NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond said: "We have very strong concerns about the Environment Agency's proposed charge increases which will mean substantial changes and price hikes for many farmers and growers at a time when, like any industry, they can ill afford them.

"The NFU has responded to this consultation in the strongest terms. There is a real fear that small-scale, commercial on-farm composting units will not be able to sustain the increase in charges and this could ultimately drive them out of business. Charges for spreading beneficial materials, such as compost, could amount to thousands of pounds for some farmers. This goes completely against government policies which are supposed to be encouraging the addition of organic matter to farm soils.

"We are also deeply concerned that the proposed charges for a permit, which recognises the environmental benefit of treating sheep dip, do not reflect the Environment Agency's commitment to provide a worthwhile financial incentive to farmers. In fact, those charges could discourage farmers from treating their dip in this way. The Agency really needs to start looking at innovative ways to encourage better environmental solutions.

"Other stings in the tail include higher charges for on-farm Anaerobic Digestion plants despite Government claiming it is keen to encourage farmers to use on-farm inputs to reduce emissions and produce green, clean energy.

"It seems perverse that while we are being encouraged to do more for the environment in terms of waste management the Environment Agency is seeking to increase the legislative burden and cost for farmers. What happened to the Agency's commitment to light touch regulation and encouraging low carbon technologies?

"These proposals fly in the face of common sense and common goals to reduce waste and protect the environment."