EA opens con­sul­ta­tion on changes to charges

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Advertiser Farming -

THE En­vi­ron­ment Agency has launched a con­sul­ta­tion seek­ing views on changes to its charg­ing regimes, its most sig­nif­i­cant and com­pre­hen­sive re­view of re­cent years.

The aim of the re­view is to sim­plify fees across a range of dif­fer­ent schemes and also to fully re­cover its costs.

The con­sul­ta­tion pro­poses a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant in­creases in charges for regimes that im­pact on agri­cul­ture, in­clud­ing: In­ten­sive pig and poul­try farm­ing. Ground­wa­ter au­tho­ri­sa­tions for the land­spread­ing of sheep dip. Land­spread­ing of waste. The “def­i­ni­tion of waste” panel. Flood man­age­ment ac­tiv­i­ties. In the case of the in­ten­sive poul­try sec­tor, the EA con­sul­ta­tion on its Strate­gic Re­view of Charges states that:

Per­mit vari­a­tion fees will in­crease from £380 to be­tween ap­prox­i­mately £2,400 and £7,000 de­pend­ing upon the de­gree of vari­a­tion.

New ap­pli­ca­tion fees could rise from £3,750 to around £8,000.

Other charg­ing regimes also fea­ture sig­nif­i­cant charge in­creases.

In the past few weeks, the NFU has writ­ten to Defra min­is­ter Ge­orge Eus­tice and the EA chief ex­ec­u­tive Sir James Be­van, out­lin­ing sig­nif­i­cant con­cerns with the pro­pos­als to in­crease charges and urg­ing the agency to con­tinue the di­a­logue with the in­dus­try on how these in­creases could be kept down or at the very least, how any in­creases could be in­tro­duced in a stepped ap­proach.

The NFU is con­tin­u­ing to seek a meet­ing with the min­is­ter to dis­cuss these con­cerns.

NFU poul­try board chair­man Dun­can Pri­est­ner said: “These changes raise very se­ri­ous con­cerns for our in­dus­try and we would urge the En­vi­ron­ment Agency to re­con­sider.

“Farm busi­nesses are in­cred­i­bly in­no­va­tive and are of­ten early adopters of new tech­nol­ogy – this sharp in­crease in costs lev­elled on busi­nesses by the En­vi­ron­ment Agency could se­ri­ously cur­tail these ad­vance­ments.

“Many busi­nesses are cur­rently suf­fer­ing from a lack of cer­tainty re­gard­ing the fu­ture en­vi­ron­ment we will work in af­ter Brexit and many are al­ready mak­ing cost changes to im­prove their ef­fi­ciency and com­pet­i­tive­ness on farm.

“These pro­posed changes could see many pig and poul­try busi­nesses take a step back from in­no­vat­ing to en­sure they can deal with in­flated ad­min­is­tra­tive costs.

“In re­turn for ad­di­tional cost we are re­ceiv­ing noth­ing ex­tra in re­turn.

“This money would be far bet­ter spent in­vested in the busi­ness for the ben­e­fit of the en­vi­ron­ment.

“The pro­posed fee in­creases are in­equitable and un­jus­ti­fied – a view that we will be con­vey­ing strongly to the En­vi­ron­ment Agency.”

EA rep­re­sen­ta­tives will pro­vide in­for­ma­tion re­lat­ing to poul­try premises with more than 40,000 bird places at a meet­ing at NFU HQ Stoneleigh on Mon­day, De­cem­ber 11.

Mem­bers wish­ing to at­tend should email the NFU’s chief poul­try ad­viser Gary Ford or phone him on 07966 781003.

NFU poul­try board chair­man Dun­can Pri­est­ner

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