For the past few years waste exemptions, intended to provide a light-touch form of regulation for low-risk activities, have been the flexible friend of businesses and the regulator alike. The beauty is in the system’s simplicity. But the system is so simple that it has become open to abuse and almost impossible to police.
Environment Agency (EA) data shows that by the end of June 2019 there were 487,432 exemptions registered with regulators across England. Of these, 406,969 (83%) were on farms. The number of sites holding exemptions is thought to be more than 130,000. These are big numbers, given that very little monitoring is going on.