The new charging schemes for regulatory permits and services were effective from 1 April 2018.
In terms of the regimes of interest to agriculture, it proposed a number of significant increases in charges for:
- Intensive poultry farming;
- Landspreading of waste;
- Groundwater authorisations for the landspreading of sheep dip and pesticides;
- On-farm AD plants; and
- Flood management activities.
What has the NFU done on this subject?
- Letters to Defra Minister George Eustice and the Environment Agency Chief Executive Sir James Bevan -
- outlining our significant concerns with the proposals to significantly increase charges and our substantial concerns about the level of transparency in how the Agency had calculated the proposed charge increases; and
- urging the Agency to continue the dialogue with the industry on how these increases could be kept down.
- Submission of a comprehensive consultation response outlining the points above but also -
- making a strong argument for the continued use of grant in aid to contribute to permitting fees - a permit nearly always has additional and wider socio-economic and environmental benefits, such as flood mitigation, improvement in air quality or water quality or waste recovery, which provides wider public goods; and
- providing a strong recommendation to delay the implementation of any charge changes until at least April 2019 when additional dialogue and solutions of mutual benefit for the Agency and industry could be discussed and agreed.
- A joint press release with the NPA, BEIC and BPC, strongly urging the Agency to reconsider their proposals for the intensive pig and poultry sectors and in particular, the significant risk of unintended consequences or perverse impacts including curbing the adoption of new technologies or the uptake of new innovations.
- Numerous meetings over a period of months with Agency staff at differing levels in their organisation to discuss their charging proposals and our concerns, including organising a well-attended session for NFU poultry members to meet the Agency at NFU HQ at the end of last year as part of the consultation process.
- Persuading the Agency to extend its consultation period by 2 weeks from an initial 6 week period.
Despite the outcome on the consultation, we are making sure that we maintain discussions with the Agency because it is important that we continue to find ways of keeping any increased costs to a minimum.
- More recently this has included a joint letter with the NSA, SHAWG (Sheep Health and Welfare Group) and SCOPS (Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep) to the Farmers’ Guardian calling for government to introduce reasonable costs to apply for and maintain a license to use and dispose of organophosphate dips; and
- It will also include an industry workshop at NFU HQ in June to gather views on the Agency’s ‘light touch’ review of intensive farming permitting.