The Environment Agency has confirmed that slurry stores and lagoons must be covered by February 2021, unless an appropriate alternative is in place.
It has clarified the position with the NPA, which has published the information in its website.
The Best Available Techniques (BAT) conclusions for intensive rearing of poultry or pigs, published in February 2017, set out the requirement for covering slurry stores and lagoons.
All slurry stores and lagoons on newly-permitted sites (permitted after the publication of the BAT conclusions) need to be covered from the time they are built.
All existing sites must meet the BAT conclusion requirements within four years of their publication – by February 2021.
The BAT conclusions state that an operator could use slurry acidification as an alternative to covering their slurry stores. Operators must follow the BAT conclusions relevant to their facility. However, they can use an alternative technique where they can demonstrate that it will provide a level of environmental protection that’s equivalent to the BAT, according to the agency.
Operators with older stores (built before the sector was brought into regulation in 2007), were required to produce a plan to cover these stores by 2020, a requirement set out in a permit improvement condition issued to all operators of farms with slurry stores.
“Our current position is that wash water with a dry matter content of less than 1% can continue to be stored in an uncovered reception pit/slurry store. Operators are required to submit analysis to demonstrate the dry matter content of the slurry,” the agency said.
This position will be reviewed to ensure there is evidence that ammonia emissions from such stores are minimal and equivalent to the level of protection offered by BAT Conclusion 16 and 17.
But the agency said it had decided that the BAT conclusions document addresses and supersedes the previous requirement. Therefore, the deadline to cover slurry these stores will be February 2021, not 2020 as originally stated in some operator’s permits.
A revised version of the ‘How to comply’ document will shortly be updated to reflect the latest BAT conclusions.
NPA policy services officer Lizzie Wilson said she would be holding talks with the agency ‘very soon’ about what sort of materials are acceptable to cover slurry stores.
EA guidance on producing a proposal for covering slurry stores: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/297090/geho0110brsfe-e.pdf
AHDB guidance on covering slurry stores: https://pork.ahdb.org.uk/environment-buildings/pigbuildings-housing-development/slurry-stores/covering-slurry-stores/
AHDB has also published a report on slurry acidification: https://ahdb.org.uk/