NFU responds to two EA calls regarding biowaste

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The NFU has recently responded to the Environment Agency (EA)’s consultations on Standard Rules Sets for biowaste and their review of three quality protocols for anaerobic digestion, compost and poultry litter ash.

Standard Rules Consultation

In October of last year, the EA issued Standard Rules Consultation No.20 - proposed revised rule sets for biowaste. Details about the consultation can be found on NFU online here.

The NFU's interest in the consultations is due to the following reasons:

  • Many of our members receive compost and digestate as landspreading materials. In addition, some NFU members are anaerobic digestion (AD) plant operators and composters.
  • Any changes or removal of Standard Rules Permits (SRPs) should not stifle the future growth of the biowaste sector which is at odds with the Government's aims of a circular economy. We are particularly interested in supporting smaller-scale low-risk on-farm AD operations (<140 kW electrical output, or 400 kW thermal input) which have considerable potential to contribute to the NFU's ambition of net zero agriculture by 2040.
  • The NFU supports competence training which is light touch, refresher training or on-the-job continual professional development (CPD). Training requirements need to be proportionate to the size, complexity and feedstock of the AD unit.
  • The NFUs believes that more should be done to eliminate plastic contamination in materials spread to land, this would improve market confidence in the agricultural sector.

The NFU submitted a comprehensive response on 28th February 2020, which can be read here.


Quality Protocol Review

The second call from the EA was issued in December of last year - further information about the call can be found on NFU online here.

The EA is going to review all thirteen of the current Quality Protocol (QP) frameworks during 2020/21. This review was for the first in a series to review 3 of the 13 QPs. This review covered Compost, Anaerobic Digestate, and Poultry Litter Ash.

As part of the review the EA invited industry to comment and provide evidence to inform the decision whether to continue, or withdraw support, for those QPs.

The NFU's interest in the call is due to the following reasons:

  • Compost, digestate and poultry litter ash are received by many of our members as landspreading materials. Some NFU members are anaerobic digestion (AD) plant operators and composters, and some poultry producers use poultry litter in biomass boilers to create renewable energy. The Quality Protocols (QPs) are important from both the plant operator’s perspective and the user of the resulting material.
  • QPs are valuable in providing assurance and clarity to farmers that the materials being spread to land are of good agronomic benefit, high quality and safe for the environment.
  • The NFU believe that QP’s are widely recognised frameworks which work well to produce high quality products from waste materials, without being burdensome. They promote greater recovery and recycling, so any reversion would be a retrograde step and perverse to Defra’s waste objectives.
  • Any adverse changes or removal of the QPs must not stifle the future growth of the on-farm AD sector, compost sector and markets for poultry litter ash.
  • Again, one of the NFU’s key messages was around plastic contamination, that more should be done to eliminate plastic in materials spread to land, this would improve market confidence in the agricultural sector and embrace circular waste economy.

The NFU’s full response to the QP review, which was also submitted on 28th February 2020 can be read here.  





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