Intensive pig and poultry farmers have benefited from a considerable easing of environmental regulatory pressures in response to the sector's economic downturn. At the farming summit in 2000, the Prime Minister ordered the original deadline for IPPC applications of 2003/04, to be put back to 2006/07 (ENDS Report 302, pp 26-28 ).
The Agency has developed "general binding rules" for the sector - standardised permit conditions for which a reduced application fee can be charged (ENDS Report 310, pp 41-42 ). The application fee for 2004/05 is £3,130 with a subsistence charge of around £2,000 - much less than for an industrial site.
Now the farming sector's European representative body, COPA, is using the European Commission's review of the IPPC Directive (see p 55 ) to lobby for the Directive's requirements to be delayed until 2013.
Ann Peterson, policy manager at the National Pig Association, a member of COPA, said that implementation of IPPC in the pig sector should be delayed because of the "considerable costs" of meeting the Directive's requirements. The call came originally from the Danish pig industry, but is supported by the UK. Both countries have large intensive farming industries. Ms Peterson said that IPPC would require farmers to make significant changes to animal housing in order to reduce emissions of ammonia and help prevent odour problems.
However, it is far from clear how onerous IPPC's requirements will actually be, since neither the industry nor the Agency are aware of the current state of best practice among the 300-400 pig and 1,500 poultry farms in the UK. The latest guidance for the pig and poultry sectors, revised in May in the light of recent EU guidance (ENDS Report 334, p 52 ), lists the best available techniques (BAT) operators should use.1,2The guidance says that some 8% of the UK's emissions of ammonia come from pig housing. BAT for housing is either a slatted-floor slurry collection system which minimises slurry exposure, or a solid-floor system with the generous use of straw and regular cleaning.
The guidance also describes what appears to be a range of basic good management practice operators should be using. Operators of existing installations of either type will have one year to review their housing and management practices and propose a programme to upgrade.