As a temporary measure to prop up the by-products industry last year, legislation was passed to make it illegal to bury or burn animal waste except in special circumstances (ENDS Report 273, pp 33-34 ). The Order permitted burial - including landfill - only where the quantity of material and the distance to approved rendering premises or an incinerator do not justify the transport.
Initially, however, inadequate enforcement meant that the legislation failed to prevent slaughterhouses from consigning some 4,000 tonnes of offal per week to landfill.
New guidance confirming that it would normally be illegal to landfill slaughterhouse waste was issued in July (ENDS Report 283, p 41 ). This appears to have been effective in halting landfilling of most slaughterhouse waste. But rendering firms report that huge tonnages of butchers' waste are still being landfilled - and the guidance did next to nothing to discourage disposal of fallen stock on farms.
Now, the Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF) wants to revise the Order again to make it illegal to burn or bury animal waste unless the distance to "permitted disposal routes" - rather than just rendering or incineration plants - does not justify it.
"The intention is that farmers would be expected to dispose of their fallen stock to a knacker's yard, hunt kennel or other permitted disposal route," MAFF explains, "where the quantity of material and distance involved justified doing so."
In part, the proposals are intended to avoid a breach of the 1990 EC Directive on animal waste. But, as with last year's initiative, MAFF has not explained its policy on enforcing the measures.
The paper also notes that burning animals on farms will be made illegal when the UK brings agricultural waste under normal waste controls - but consultation on these measures has now been delayed until March 1999.
As well as tightening controls on fallen stock, the new Order would tidy up existing legislation on waste food and animal by-products by bringing most of the controls into a single instrument. It also incorporates all the relevant EC legislation, and prescribes the operating standards required at rendering plants and knackeries.