NFU responds to Defra Waste Crime Consultation

The NFU has submitted a comprehensive response to a recent consultation by Defra on methods to tackle crime and entrenched poor performance in the waste industry. The main proposals within the consultation were:

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  • To enable the Environment Agency to revoke permits and prevent operators from accessing permitted sites after continued non-compliance. This proposal would also impact upon permitted intensive pig and poultry units;
  • Introduce a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) for fly-tipping offences;
  • Require landowners to provide evidence of awareness of the waste activity occurring on their land at the permit application stage;
  • Limit the scope of and introduce a charge to waste exemptions.

We have highlighted the severe implications to animal health and welfare in enabling regulators the ability to revoke permits and bar access to intensive pig and poultry units.

We believe it is a hugely disproportionate response to take if the non-compliance is due to amenity issues, particularly when the amenity reports originate from a housing development built in close proximity to a previously compliant unit.

See also: Waste crime consultation

We are generally in favour with the introduction of a FPN for fly-tipping. However we believe they will only impact on those waste criminals who are ‘caught in the act’ and have asked for clarity on which regulatory body would issues these.

FPNs will only help to tackle fly-tipping if resource is set aside within the regulatory body to investigate fly-tipping and issue the FPNs. Their successful use would need to be well publicised to increase a landowner’s willingness to report a fly-tipping event due to the belief that something can be done. Further information on fly-tipping can be found in our Love Your Countryside Campaign.

We have rejected proposals to require landowners to provide evidence of awareness of the waste activity occurring on their land. We believe this to be over bureaucratic and will increase a landowner’s risk of being investigated for a waste crime when they had no involvement, particularly for landspreading permits where it is unrealistic for the farmer to be present on each occasion that waste is deposited on their land.

We have recommended that more emphasis should be placed on ensuring the technical competence of the waste operator and their awareness of the activity they are undertaking.

We have strongly objected the proposals to limit the scope of exemptions and introduce charges. These proposals would increase red-tape and bureaucracy and go back on initial claims made by the Environment Agency that they would always be free of charge.

We believe they will disrupt legitimate waste recovery operations for example small-scale plastic recovery, using tyres for silage clamps and using inert waste for farm tracks, leading to an increase in landfilling.

We have challenged Defra and the Environment Agency to supply evidence that these changes are required, for example providing figures on the proportion of farmers who have been proven to be non-compliant with these exemptions.