Producers should move fast to avoid EA price hikes

New Year is here! I hope everyone had a good Christmas and is ready for a prosperous and successful 2018?

Last year generally worked out well for the industry; it allowed recovery, reinvestment and positivity. I would like to thank the AHDB team and all the producers we worked with for everything we achieved over the last 12 months.

At the environmental permitting meetings, it was good to see AHDB, farmers and EA staff working together to ensure things are right and compliant. I would like to thank and acknowledge those who attended for how well they accepted some challenging messages about the changes coming down the line. We continue to work on solutions, especially to the tricky question of emission factors.

Another matter I’m keeping an eye on is the Environment Agency (EA) charges consultation, which has been extended. If you pay fees to the EA annually, not just for what were IPPC (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) permits, check out the proposals.

You have until January 26 to get responses in. The proposed charge increases for permitting will, if implemented, be an extra worry for those working hard to develop their businesses. Especially for those who are achieving productivity gains through better sow performance, or managing health and growth by not moving into finishing accommodation until 35-40kg. It is not the annual subsistence fee that will become the barrier, but application and variation fees, which often will dwarf those paid to local authorities for planning.

The EA acknowledged how much easier it is, for all parties, when the ‘Model Templates’ that AHDB has developed are used when making applications and variations. We continue, along with the NPA, to invest in liaison and working groups to simplify processes and offer solutions and technical support.

We are informed that the new fees are based on time and costs (if we hadn’t worked so closely, what could they have been based on?). I urge anyone needing a permit or making a variation, to get on with it quickly to avoid any price rises.

On a more positive note, we have continued our focus on quality and distribution of water, and have lots of things to share. At the Strategic Farm meeting on January 15, we will report on how water quality has been improved and the impact it’s had. We will also attend NPA regional meetings to face your challenging questions. If water is an area where you are seeking improvement, why not get involved in our Strategic Farm programme? Visit https://pork.ahdb.org.uk/

Finally, I’m sorry to say AHDB is saying goodbye to environment & buildings project manager Sue Rabbich. She and her husband have opted for voluntary service overseas. It’s sad for us, but I am sure their talents will have a lasting impact. Looking back on her contribution here, there’s a huge legacy of materials that are making a difference to people’s and pigs’ lives. We wish them both well.

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About The Author

Nigel Penlington joined AHDB Pigs in 2004 and is now the organisation’s head of research and development and knowledge exchange.