Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 15 July 2018

Farmers will face increasing scrutiny on waste disposal

Farm plastics baled for recycling by the Irish Farm Film Producers Group (IFFPG) which operated 235 collections services last year
Farm plastics baled for recycling by the Irish Farm Film Producers Group (IFFPG) which operated 235 collections services last year

Theresa Murphy

Q I see it as my duty to ensure that my farmland is clear of plastic and waste that seems to be covering more and more of the countryside and I am frustrated that some farmers seem to be ignoring the need to keep waste under control. What are the rules in relation to proper disposal of farm waste and what can I do about this?

A Waste management can cause farmers a lot of difficulty through the disposal of both hazardous waste like chemicals and non-hazardous waste. It is important for everyone to understand their legal duties in respect of correct disposal in order to protect the environment but also themselves from potential prosecution.

Farm waste

Ireland implemented European regulations on farm waste management in 1997. This was followed by the Waste Management (Farm Plastics) Regulations 2001 which was amended in 2017.

As part of that legislation "farm plastics" means sheeting, netting, bale twine, bale wrap or bale bags.

The regulations require companies that sell farm film products to either become directly involved in the recycling of farm plastics waste with their customers (referred to as offering a deposit and refund scheme) or to participate in a government approved farm plastics recycling scheme.

The Irish Farm Film Producers Group (IFFPG) is the national farm plastics recycling compliance scheme.

It provides a recycling service for farmers to ensure we reach recycling targets set by the government.

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It operates approximately 235 bring centres annually, as well as providing a farmyard collection service.

The IFFPG currently recycles in excess of 25,000 tonnes of farm plastics yearly, which equates to a national recycling rate of over 70pc.

The dates and locations for 2018 are available on the IFFPG website www.farmplastics.ie.

Burial of dead animals

Spring inevitably sees an increase in dead animal numbers.

The burial of animals on farms was prohibited by the EU from 2001 onwards with an exemption for remote areas.

Under the EU regulations, farmers have to arrange for the collection and disposal of all fallen animals.

Fallen stock must be collected, identified and transported without 'undue delay'. Undue delay is not defined in the EU Control Regulation but is taken to mean as soon as is practical, taking account of the availability of a collection service and mitigating factors such as poor weather or ill-health.

However, in relation to bovine carcasses over 48 months of age, you need to contact the operator of an approved TSE Sampling Site within 24 hours of the animal's death to make arrangements to have the animal collected and disposed of for the purpose of TSE (Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies) testing. The Department of Agriculture's website has details relating to the operation of the TSE subsidy.

Herbicides

The Department of Agriculture has issued letters to farmers in areas where the herbicide MCPA has been found in drinking water supplies.

Further action may be taken which could involve restrictions on use of MCPA-based products, such as wider buffer zones, or a ban on the purchase and use of MCPA products.

Farmers using the chemical may be visited by the Pesticide Controls Division (PCD). MCPA is typically used to spray weeds such as rushes.

Farmers have been urged to inform themselves of the location of all nearby water bodies such as ditches, streams, ponds, rivers, lakes and springs and to consider weed wiping with an appropriate herbicide (not MCPA) as a rush control option.

Hazardous waste disposal

The Farm Hazardous Waste Collection scheme was established to provide farmers with an accessible location in which they can safely dispose of hazardous waste.

The scheme is led by the EPA in collaboration with Teagasc, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Communications and local authorities. While some waste can be disposed of free of charge, other types range in price from €2-4 per kilogram.

Collection dates were set up at a number of marts throughout the country in 2017. You can get more information on this from the EPA.

Containers

Empty pesticide and dairy hygiene containers are potentially hazardous wastes if not managed properly and can represent a management challenge for many farmers.

To assist farmers in managing this waste, national agencies have issued guidelines on how to manage these empty containers. Only triple-rinsed empty pesticide containers can be classified as non-hazardous waste. The guidelines are available on www.epa.ie

Pesticides

The EU's Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive (SUD) requires those involved at all levels of the industry to receive training. In order to register as a professional user, you are required to have formal training in the safe use and application of pesticides. Experience alone does not qualify an individual to register.

There is a list of recognised qualifications on the Department of Agriculture website. Any person who uses or applies professional use pesticides including farmers, contractors, landscapers, green keepers etc is considered a professional user.

The registration number of the person applying pesticides will be required as part of a cross-compliance inspection.

Complaints

You can report environmental breaches or pollution incidents to your local authority or the National Environmental Complaints Line (NECL) on 1850 365 121.

You can also make a complaint to the EPA about activities which are licensed by the them. More information on this is available on www.epa.ie.

This article is intended as a general guide only

Theresa Murphy, is a barrister based in Ardrahan, Co Galway


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