NPA to challenge EA stance on covering slurry stores

The NPA has said it will challenge the position taken by the Environment Agency on the requirement for permitted producers to cover slurry stores by February 2021.

In an email to the NPA, the agency explains why the requirement has been introduced and warns permitted farmers that even stores containing slurry with less than 1% dry matter content might need to be covered. This will affect a lot of straw-based units, according to the NPA, which is unhappy with the position taken by the agency.

The agency pointed out that the requirement of the Best Available Techniques (BAT) Conclusions for the Intensive Rearing of Poultry or Pigs for regulated pig and poultry farms to cover slurry stores and lagoons has been in place since the sector came into regulation in 2007.

“We had always required operators to be compliant with this requirement by 2020. The BAT conclusions, published in February 2017 set out a new and final deadline for all farmers to ensure stores and lagoons are covered by February 2021,” it added.

“The reason we require stores to be covered is to prevent ammonia being released to air. A cover can reduce ammonia emissions by up to 90% or more. Ammonia is damaging to wildlife, habitats and can react in the atmosphere to form particulate matter which is damaging to human health.”

The agency said it understood there are some ‘technical aspects around this’ and that it was ‘working towards developing clear positions’, which it will share with the NPA.

“One important issue is the use of 1% dry matter content and assuming that stores with slurry below this level won’t need to be covered. We need to consider whether this is still legally and technically appropriate,” the agency added.

“We want to ensure any position around what must be covered, or not is compliant with BAT, takes account of linkages with other BAT requirements on emissions to water, water use and manure storage and that we have the right evidence and technical understanding.

“We are working on this internally and will work closely with the trade associations and the sector on this.”

NPA policy services officer Lizzie Wilson said: “We are challenging the EA’s position and submitting information and evidence, as well as liaising with them regularly to ensure the best outcome for our permitted members.”

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Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.