IPPC: Last minute nerves all round

UK - Pig and poultry farmers on the continent are paying a good deal less for their IPPC permits than British producers. In Holland, for instance, the charge is just £250, whilst in Britain most pig-keepers will pay over £3,000, says the NPA's Digby Scott.
calendar icon 9 August 2006
clock icon 4 minute read

Countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark are not an IPPC soft touch; if anything they interpret environmental legislation concerning pigs more strictly.

But they see the process of issuing IPPC permits as comparatively straight-forward, involving simple paperwork and nominal charges.

The poultry sector in Britain is particularly irritated by the scale of permit charges being demanded by the Environment Agency and has asked for a three-year derogation of the charges.

This has not been well received at the Environment Agency. It fears some poultry producers may misunderstand the sector’s request and think they don’t need to apply for a permit at all.

The English pig industry has worked closely with the poultry sector in trying to ensure IPPC is not gold-plated in this country. But it is unable to support the call for a moratorium on permit charges.

For one thing, it tried last year to get the implementation of IPPC delayed, and was comprehensively rebuffed by Defra.

For another, it feels the permit charges – although high - are hardly the issue. NPA chairman Stewart Houston is clear the real issue is to avoid gold-plating.

“The permit charges are far less significant than the effect of any over zealous implementation,” he said. He has assured the Environment Agency that NPA will not be seeking a moratorium on charges.

And he wants to stress, to those pig-producers who meet the IPPC thresholds, that there will be no last-minute reprieve; so they will need to make their application by January next year.

Right now the Environment Agency is signalling disquiet about the apparent unwillingness of producers to attend IPPC workshops.

It wants NFU and NPA to explain to producers that nobody knows how many people will need to apply for an IPPC permit, or who they are. So the Agency has no option but to use workshops to get its message across, rather than to mail out information.

The Agency has said it might hold some more workshops in September but will need assurance from NFU and NPA that members will be encouraged to attend.

However, low attendance at the current round of workshops cannot be laid at NPA’s door.

Harvest is in full swing and earning a living has to come first with farmers. Furthermore, the workshop dates were issued late and as a result they could not appear in July Pig World, which is the main conduit for NPA communication with its members.

For the same reason, any meetings to be held in September cannot be announced in August issue of Pig World, because no details had been released at time of going to press.

Nevertheless, the pig sector has worked productively with the Agency to make the permit application process as straightforward as possible, and is keen for the good relationship it has built not to be marred by last-minute squabbles.

Stewart Houston has spoken to the Agency and assured it that NPA will of course do its best to disseminate information about permit application workshops in September.

Although NPA is unable to support the poultry sector’s request for a moratorium on permit charges, it does have one outstanding issue of its own.

The Agency would like producers to apply for their permit earlier in the October-January window rather than later. But no producer is going to want the £3,331 fee to leave his account sooner than necessary, so there will be a tendency to wait until the last minute.

Stewart Houston has suggested to the Agency that it should introduce some kind of incentive to prevent this happening. The Agency is considering the matter.

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