With the growing importance of environmental consciousness, people are recognising the significance of waste reduction and recycling in their operations. However, acquiring an environmental permit for storing and using waste on the farm can be costly and time-consuming.
An alternative option that enables reuse and recycling activities without requiring an environmental permit is the use of waste exemptions. These exemptions come with specific limitations on the scope of activities and the quantities of waste stored or processed.
Nevertheless, they offer small-scale recycling initiatives an opportunity to bypass the expensive environmental permit route. Waste exemptions are designed to provide a streamlined regulatory approach to small, low-risk waste management activities.
One commonly utilised exemption among farmers is the U1 waste exemption: use of waste in construction. This exemption permits the use of suitable waste materials for construction purposes, including building, engineering work, repairs, alterations, maintenance, improvement, and preparatory or landscaping work.
Examples of eligible activities under this exemption include:
- Creating a noise bund around a new development using crushed bricks, concrete, rocks, and aggregate, followed by landscaping the area with soil.
- Constructing a track, path, or bridleway using road planings and rubble.
- Building a track, path, or bridleway using woodchip.
- Importing soil for landscaping at housing developments.
However, the exemption does not allow for waste treatment to make it suitable or for land reclamation, except for filling a hollow.
Additionally, it is not suitable for activities that exceed the three-year registration limit at the same location or for the storage of waste for over 12 months before use.
What are Waste Exemptions
A waste exemption refers to a specific waste operation that is deemed exempt from the requirement of obtaining an environmental permit. These exemptions are designed to accommodate certain types of waste activities that have been identified as posing minimal environmental risks.
However, it’s important to note that each waste exemption is subject to certain limits and conditions that must be strictly adhered to in order to ensure compliance with relevant regulations and maintain environmental safety. Therefore, individuals or organisations engaging in waste activities under an exemption must carefully meet and fulfil these specified criteria to operate within the bounds of legality and environmental responsibility.
Waste exemptions are typically categorised into four groups:
- Using Waste (exemptions U1 to U16)
- Disposing of Waste (exceptions D1 to D8)
- Treating Waste (exemptions T1 to T33)
- Storing Waste (exemptions S1 to S3)
Registration for waste exemptions usually requires completing an online form with essential details such as the operator’s name, address, and activity location. For those with more than 30 sites to register, bulk registration is available.
What is the D4 Waste Exemption?
The D4 waste exemption provides a practical solution for managing agricultural waste composed of plant tissue in a safe and controlled manner. Specifically, this exemption permits the deposition of diseased crops at their original cultivation site under the condition that a Plant Health Notice has been issued.
By adhering to this exemption, the aim is to minimise the potential transmission of plant diseases or pests, thus safeguarding the overall health and integrity of the plant population.
This approach contributes to effective waste management practices within the agricultural sector while mitigating the risks associated with the spread of harmful plant pathogens.
Compliance and Important Considerations
While waste exemptions provide a self-regulating system, the Environment Agency may conduct site visits to ensure compliance with the relevant exemption limits. Therefore, retaining relevant documentation such as duty of care waste transfer notes for imported wastes is crucial.
Non-compliance with exemption limits and conditions renders the exemption ineffective, making it necessary to obtain an environmental permit. Operating without the required permit would be considered illegal, potentially resulting in the Environment Agency deregistering the exemption and taking enforcement action if the activity harms people or the environment.
If you need guidance regarding the utilisation of waste exemptions or obtaining environmental permits, feel free to contact Jackson’s Regulatory Team at 01642 356500 or 0191 2322574.