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Agricultural waste frequently asked questions

Agricultural waste frequently asked questions

The Prevention of Environmental Pollution From Agricultural Activity Code (PEPFAA Code) of good practice provides practical guidance for farmers and those involved in agricultural activities, on minimising the risks of environmental pollution from farming operations. The code answers many questions that arise from managing agricultural activities.

Burning waste

Q. Can I dispose of wastes by burning them on my farm?

A. Burning in the open (with the exception of plant tissue) has been banned. Controlled burning of vegetable waste in an exempt incinerator or plant tissue in the open air  is only allowed in certain circumstances and the farmer must register an exemption with SEPA first. Exemptions are considered where the farmer demonstrates that the activity will not pollute the environment or harm human health. Where their use is permitted, you must register either under a Paragraph 30 exemption or  under a Paragraph 29 exemption. You can register this exemption for free through our online registration page.

Q. Do I have to notify SEPA before I burn branch waste and brash?

A. Yes, you must apply for a Paragraph 30 exemption with SEPA before burning branch waste or brash. You can register this exemption for free through our online registration page.

Reuse, recycling, storage and disposal of farm wastes

Q. Is it possible to utilise the brick and stone from an old farm building to make up a road within the same farm?

A. The material being used is waste and therefore a Paragraph 19 exemption should be registered with your local SEPA office at least 21 days before carrying out such an activity.

Q. A number of growers are considering buying and sharing a plastics recycling bin. Do we have to register this activity?

A. Yes, the shared storage of waste plastics should be registered with SEPA as a Paragraph 17 exemption unless it is stored only on the farm which produced it. You can register this exemption for free through our online registration page.

Q. Can I set up a collection centre for farm waste plastics, to facilitate bulking of the plastics prior to them being taken to a recycling facility? Can the bulking process involve shredding and / or baling?

A. Yes. If you bale, sort, shred, compact or wash less than 100 tonnes of waste plastic per week, you can register a Paragraph 11 exemption with SEPA. You can register this exemption for free through our online registration page.

Consigning waste, special waste, registering exemptions

Q. How should I let SEPA know I am carrying out an exempt activity?

A. If you are carrying out, or intend to carry out, an exempt activity, you should fill in and return a registration form or register online. Paper forms should be completed and returned to the local office. ALL exemptions which utilise only waste from agricultural activities are FREE.

Q. Who is responsible for waste fly tipped on farms?

A. The Scottish Flytipping Forum has been set up to deal with fly tipping it involves many organisations such as the Local Authorities, the Scottish Government, SEPA and Keep Scotland Beautiful.

Q. What is 'special waste'?

A. In Scotland, since July 2004, waste from agricultural premises that has hazardous properties and is listed as hazardous in the European Waste Catalogue has been controlled by the Special Waste Regulations. This new definition includes agricultural waste, formerly not included under the Special Waste Regulations. Special Waste that might be discarded in agricultural businesses includes for example:

  • asbestos;
  • waste oil and fuel oils such as diesel;
  • certain veterinary medicines or infectious veterinary wastes;
  • pesticides and herbicides;
  • cleaning chemicals such as disinfectants and bleach;
  • sheep dip.

Special waste has to be handled differently from other controlled wastes. You can find out more about the additional legal controls that apply to Special Waste on the NetRegs Hazardous/Special Waste web page.

Q. How much does it cost to send special waste to a waste disposal site?

A. Article 1(5) of the Hazardous Waste Directive (91/689/EEC) exempts domestic waste from the consignment requirement and this is reflected in the Special Waste Regulations.

Farmers, like any other commercial waste producers, must comply with the requirement to consign. A charge of £15 per consignment note is made. This reflects the costs incurred by SEPA in administering the system.

There are ways of reducing these costs. Rather than purchasing a consignment note for each consignment of special waste, a ‘carriers round’ system can be used. For example if several farmers had their waste oil collected by one farmer (or a commercial contractor) as part of a 'carriers round' within a 24 hour period then the £15 cost of the note could be spread between the various waste producers.

A guide to consigning special waste (1.34mb) is available to help you understand the different ways in which waste could be collected.

Contact us

If you have any questions or require any further information or advice on any aspect of agricultural waste, please contact us using the online contact form.