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What is best practice for on-farm waste management?

25 Feb 2019

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Waste management has become an increasingly important issue in farming throughout Ireland.

Everyday issues encountered by farmers include the disposal of waste generated from routine practices to dealing with consequences from the unauthorised activities of others and the increasing blight of illegal dumping.

It is important for everyone to understand their responsibilities in respect of correct waste management practices in order to protect the environment, and to protect themselves from potential prosecution.

Illegal Dumping

Construction and Demolition (C&D) waste is waste generated from construction and demolition activities (including excavated soil from contaminated sites). A holder or producer of waste is required by law to ensure their waste is dealt with in a responsible and authorised manner.

Waste should only be handed over to authorised waste collectors who hold a waste collection permit from the National Waste Collection Permit Office (NWCPO), and only brought to an authorised waste outlet with a valid waste licence, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or waste facility permit, issued by the Local Authority.

It is illegal to deposit waste on lands without an appropriate waste license or permit. As well as posing a risk to their local environment (such as to soil, groundwater and surface water), landowners who allow waste to be deposited on their land without a waste authorisation may face both significant costs in cleaning up the waste and the risk of criminal prosecution.

If waste is dumped on farmland without the knowledge of the landowner, the landowner can be held responsible for the clean-up costs and face prosecutions.

The reuse of material such as soil and stone as a by-product must comply with Article 27 of the European Communities (Waste Directive) Regulations 2011 S.I. No 126.

Producers and users of by-products should wait for the EPA’s written agreement that a material is correctly classified as a by-product before use. Failure to wait for the EPA’s decision could result in an unauthorised waste activity taking place for which the landowner can be held responsible.

Invasive species

Invasive species are non-native plants or animal species that are harmful, either to the economy, to human health or to the environment. Plants like Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed and Himalayan Balsam are the most common invasive species on Irish farmland.

A very small fragment of rhizome (root) is capable of creating a new population. The movement of topsoil and the disturbance and disposal of cuttings are the main cause of spreading. However, it can also be spread on the tyres of a tractor, in tracking machinery or even by foot.


A licence is required to remove and dispose of certain invasive species. Further information can be obtained from the Licencing Unit of the National Parks and Wildlife Service by clicking here

Farmers have a vital role to play in halting the march of invasive plant species, which can destroy waterways and properties. Work on this plant should always be overseen by a competent professional and a management plan is required as it could take many years to remove the plant.

Landowners are obliged to excavate knotweed and have it removed to an authorised site.

Asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, made up of long thin fibres, which can be dangerous if inhaled as dust. Asbestos can contribute to an increased risk of a number of cancers.

Up until 1999, asbestos was commonly used in roof tiles, building materials, mainly for insulation and fireproofing, and in some consumer goods. However, it is now illegal to place asbestos or asbestos-containing products on the market.

If you are carrying out any building or renovation work on your farm you must have an asbestos survey carried out by a specialist asbestos monitoring/surveying company. If asbestos is present an asbestos management plan is required.

Removing material containing asbestos is a complex procedure and must only be done by a specialist contractor. Asbestos waste is a hazardous waste and the original producer must ensure that it is disposed off in an authorised manner.

There is always a risk that illegally dumped waste may contain asbestos or other hazardous wastes; therefore, it is vital to exercise caution.

Penalties

Penalties under the Waste Management Act, as amended, shall be liable to:

  • On summary conviction, to a Class A fine (€5,000) or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or to both such fine and such imprisonment; or
  • On conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding €15 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years, or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

Cross Compliance

Under Cross Compliance requirements, a farmer receiving payment must respect the various Statutory Management Requirements and GAEC standards set down in EU legislation (Directives and Regulations) on the environment, climate change, good agricultural condition of land, public, animal and plant health and animal welfare.

Complaints

The EPA operates a confidential national environmental complaints line to enable members of the public to report environmental pollution, fly-tipping, and illegal dumping of waste.

Members of the public can use this 24-hour lo-call telephone number: 1850-365-121; or, alternatively, contact Local Authorities directly to report a complaint.

Local authorities and/or the Gardai and the EPA will follow up on the information provided by the public.

Source: https://www.agriland.ie/farming-news/what-is-best-practice-for-on-farm-waste-management/

Farm Waste Managament Waste Management Infomation for Farmers download here