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Agriculture: Poultry

Volume 687: debated on Monday 11 December 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, in order to prevent possible commercial disadvantage, they will reduce the £3,000 registration fee payable by United Kingdom poultry producers under the integrated pollution prevention and control regulations, bearing in mind the £700 registration fee payable by Danish poultry producers; and [HL533]

Whether they will reduce the charges that United Kingdom poultry producers are required to pay on an annual basis under the integrated pollution prevention and control regulations once they are registered under the scheme.[HL534]

The integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) directive applies an integrated environmental approach to the regulation of industrial activities. This means that emissions to air, water (including discharges to sewer) and land, plus a range of other environmental effects, including noise and vibration, must be considered together before a permit is granted. IPPC aims to prevent emissions and waste production and, where that is not practicable, to reduce them to acceptable levels.

The regulator must set permit conditions so as to achieve a high level of protection for the environment and human health as a whole. These conditions are based on the use of the “best available techniques”, which balances the costs to the operator against the benefits to the environment and human health.

Regulatory costs have to be met by those whose activities cause the need for them and so cannot be waived. Intensive livestock installations will be charged £3,331 for a permit application and then annual charges of £2,229 for a small installation and £2,794 for a large one. The IPPC directive applies only to poultry installations with places for more than 40,000 birds and to installations with places for more than 2,000 production pigs or 750 sows. Large units are those greater than 10 times the lower threshold—that is, those greater than 400,000 birds, 20,000 production pigs or 7,500 sows.

On 19 May, the industry accepted an offer from the Environment Agency whereby, provided that permit applications are received evenly through the 1 November 2006 to 31 January 2007 application period, a subsistence charge of £1,471 for an existing small installation and £1,844 for an existing large one will be made to industry from August 2007 until March 2008. This represents a substantial saving to industry.

The IPPC directive is required to be implemented in its entirety in all member states by 2007. In the UK, the farming sector is among the last to be regulated by the national transposing regulations (with the exception of new installations). Most other industrial sectors have had to apply for an IPPC permit and comply with the provisions of the IPPC regime sooner than intensive livestock.

Some EU member states may not charge for IPPC permit applications, but may recover varying proportions of their costs from the regulated industry, while others bear the cost in general taxation. This is a political decision for each national Government. The differing practices that are in place make it difficult to make comparisons of the costs to producers across the EU.

I met representatives of the industry recently and assured them that I would look again at what might be able to be done to reduce the costs of these regulatory requirements.