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Agricultural Waste

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): I am pleased to announce that, following consideration of the responses to public consultation, I have today laid before Parliament the Waste Management (England and Wales) regulations 2006 (S.I. 2006 No. 937), The Environment Act 1995 (Commencement No. 23) (England and Wales) Order 2006 (S.I. 2006 No. 934 (C. 27)) and a final regulatory impact assessment.

The effect of section 75(7)(c) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 is to exclude waste from premises used for agriculture, and waste from mines and quarries, from the waste management controls that apply to "controlled waste". The main purpose of the regulations is to repeal that exclusion and to apply to agricultural waste, and to non-mineral waste from mines and quarries, the national controls that are already in place to comply with the Waste Framework Directive (75/442/EEC as amended) and the Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC).

The exclusion in section 75(7) (c) of the 1990 Act has been the subject of infraction proceedings on the Waste Framework Directive. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) issued an adverse judgment on this infraction on 16 December 2004 (Case C-62/03) and a copy is available on the Court's website at docj&numaff=C-62%2F03&datefs=&datefe= &nomusuel=&domaine=&mots=&resmax=100. The exclusion also applies to the legislation transposing the Landfill Directive in England and Wales.

At present, most agricultural waste is disposed of on farm in "farm dumps" or by open burning. The regulations will ensure that agricultural waste is recovered or disposed of in ways which protect the environment and human health. The controls will be enforced by the Environment Agency, as the "competent authority" in England and Wales, in ways which are proportionate to the risk to the environment and human health. The existing controls have applied to all other sectors of industry and types of waste since May 1994 in the case of the Waste Framework Directive; and since June 2002 in the case of the Landfill Directive.

The main consultation paper was sent to 495 organisations and a summary, with a pull-out questionnaire, was sent to 162,000 farmers and growers in England and Wales. There were 103 responses to the main consultation and 2,485 responses to the summary questionnaire. A consultation report has been prepared
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in compliance with the Cabinet Office "Code of Practice on Consultation" and is available on my Department's website at

The regulations come into force on Monday 15 May 2006. The Landfill Directive's requirements, section 33(1 )(c) of the 1990 Act and the duty of care under section 34 of the Act will apply from that date. However, the regulations contain transitional provisions which allow farmers six months from that date to register with the Environment Agency to transport agricultural waste on a professional basis or as a dealer or broker; and allow farmers 12 months to apply to the Agency for waste management licences, to dispose of or recover agricultural waste on-farm, or to register licensing exemptions.

A wide range of licensing exemptions will be available to farmers. As a result of discussions with the Agricultural Waste Stakeholders' Forum and public consultation, we have identified proposals for more licensing exemptions for agricultural waste covering the use of drum incinerators, waste disposal in the event of a plant health disease outbreak, the use of ash from the incineration of non-SRM pig and poultry carcasses, the use of biobeds for pesticide residues and the use of dredgings from ditch clearances. We propose to carry out a supplementary consultation exercise on these proposals for more licensing exemptions during the 12-month transitional period before the regulations' waste management licensing provisions come fully into force.

The regulations also contain related or consequential amendments to existing regulations. The main amendments are:

Agriculture and Fisheries Council

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Margaret Beckett): I represented the United Kingdom at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting in Brussels on 20 March 2006.
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The Council adopted two regulations on the protection of geographical indications (GIs) and designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs and on agricultural products and foodstuffs as traditional specialties guaranteed.

The Agriculture Commissioner reported on the market situation in the poultry sector in the light of consumer reactions to avian influenza outbreaks. She said that the measures taken so far to support the sector had not adequately stabilised the market and indicated that the provision under the current legislation for exceptional measures to support the market only caters for an event of serious outbreak in the EU. She therefore announced that a new proposal to widen the scope of the current exceptional measures provision would be presented at the April Council.

The Council held a policy debate on the review of the EU sustainable development strategy based on presidency questions. I said that the top priorities should be to continue making agricultural policy more economically, socially and environmentally sustainable; to promote animal health and welfare; to improve management of fish stocks by using ecosystem-based approaches; and to counter climate change. The presidency said it would take member states' comments into account when it prepares for the June European Council.

France presented a memorandum on the CAP, focusing particularly on risk and crisis management measures and simplification of legislation. The memorandum called for new EU measures to help farmers cope with their greater exposure to market fluctuations, following recent and ongoing reform. I welcomed the memorandum as a contribution to the ongoing debate on the future of the CAP and urged the Council to be cautious about introducing EU or other Government measures which contradicted the market direction of recent CAP reforms, stressing that farmers were best placed to judge what risk management measures were best suited to their businesses. The Agriculture Commissioner referred to the Commission's ongoing work on risk and crisis management and CAP simplification and gave an overview of forthcoming work to reform the fruit and vegetable and wine reform sectors towards the end of this year and the proposal for the reform of the Common Market organisation of bananas which would be presented in June.

Under any other business, the Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection updated the Council on the latest situation with regard to the outbreak of avian influenza in the European Union.

The Agriculture Commissioner updated the Council on progress in the WTO agricultural negotiations, including the outcome of the G6 Trade Ministers meeting in London earlier this month.

Italy supported by Spain, Greece, Portugal, France, Malta and Cyprus urged the Commission to resume its contributions to the International Olive Oil Council promotional campaigns.

The Commission informed the Council that it intended to abolish the system of pre-payment of export refunds which fell under its competence.
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The Austrian presidency announced that their informal meeting of Agriculture Ministers would take place from 28–30 May, it will focus on education, extension, research, and innovation in framing.

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