Changes to Regulations for Land Spreading of Biosolids
All biosolids and septic tank sludge to land will be regulated under the Environmental Permitting Regulations by 2021. The Sludge (Use in Agriculture) Regulations, which has been in use since 1989, will no longer be needed.
This comes from the Environment Agency, who published their Policy Paper on their Strategy For Safe and Sustainable Sludge Use last week.
The application of biosolids to land has been under review for some time. The EA’s sludge strategy comes after internal consultation with key stakeholders related to the recycling and use of these materials, and the recent Regulatory Position Statement released in January, relating to changes in the coding of sludges under various environmental permits.
During their internal review, the EA looked at 4 different options to try and harmonise the regulatory framework for recycling organics to land, bring the waste and water industries in line with each other, provide clarity for biosolids recycling in England and make regulation more uniform across the whole of the UK.
They have decided to ‘evolve’ the regulatory tools already in place via Environmental Permitting which is a charge-funded approach and adopts the Polluter Pays Principle; i.e. if you are a bad operator, you will be financially penalised.
So, how will all this happen?
The new regulatory framework has eight key aims, but the four that will be of most significance to farmers, recyclers and land spreaders will be;
The EA will be forming specialist groups to help devise the new framework. As part of the REA Organics Steering Group, we have asked to be engaged with the Environmental Permitting and Sludge Regulations review and revision. This is to represent current users of both existing regulations.
Why are they doing this?
This strategy is a major regulatory shift from current regulation that permits the application of sewage sludges to land. With the implementation of the Biosolids Assurance Scheme still fairly fresh across this sector, it feels like another major change for water companies, contractors and end users.
Aside from the obvious financial drivers that will come from charge-funded regulation, the EA have given the following justifications for their strategy;
We will keep a close watch on how this develops over the coming months and we will post regularly to keep our customers up to date.
If you handle biosolids or septic tank sludges to land, or you rely on this as an outlet for your sludges then please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can provide advice and support for Environmental Permitting and keep you updated on what is happening.
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