The Environment Agency’s decision to make it easier and cheaper for farmers to use fruit and vegetable by-products in anaerobic digestion (AD) plants has been described as a victory for common sense by the CLA in the North.
Previously, leaves and roots or bruised, misshapen or undersized produce was classified as waste, meaning operators would have to apply for expensive environmental permits and implement extensive handling control regulations before they could use them in AD plants.
CLA North regional director Dorothy Fairburn said: “The CLA argued for new guidance which differentiates between by-products and waste and wrote to the Environment Secretary Liz Truss in August to explain why AD operators should be free to use crop residues and vegetable out-grades without the need for costly permits.
“It makes total sense and removes an unnecessary piece of red tape that discouraged the use of viable and sustainable by-products from the fruit and vegetable processing industry.
“Deregulating their use as feedstocks will allow more of these materials to be used to produce clean energy and nutrient-rich digestate, which can be used as an alternative to synthetic fertiliser.”
She added that removing the red tape would help the development of AD on farms producing these by-product materials and reduce waste.
“As a renewable energy source, AD can deliver a range of benefits and the CLA strongly supports the technology.”