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Environment Agency clarifies position on covering slurry stores

10th Oct 2019 / By Alistair Driver

The Environment Agency has finally clarified the position on the requirement for permitted farmers to cover slurry stores by February 2021. 

slurryIn 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.

The NPA will challenge this position.

The agency points 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 adds.

"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.

"We understand there are some technical aspects around this and are working towards developing clear positions which we will share with you.

"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.

"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 comment

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."