Animal holding units such as farms, stables, kennels and slaughterhouses fall within the remit of the Environment & Resources Authority (ERA) vis-à-vis waste management of manure and other animal by-products. In accordance with regulation 42 of the S.L 549.45, the Waste Management (Activity Registration) Regulations, animal holding units must be in compliance with a number of requirements. These same requirements can also be found within conditions in the approved General Binding Rules issued by the ERA and any other relevant permits.
The keeping of animals and waste management of farms has to follow the guidelines listed in the Code of Good Agricultural Practice as published by the Agricultural Directorate.
The Compliance and Enforcement Directorate, carries out inspections both as part of pre-permit inspections as well as compliance inspections, the latter which usually arise from various sources, such as sporadic inspections, complaints, etc. In the event that non-compliances are present on site, the Authority may proceed to take enforcement actions, as deemed necessary. The following is a non-exhaustive list of aspects which are verified by ERA officials for compliance purposes:
- Permitting Requirements – Verification that operators are complying with their permit requirements from an environmental perspective.
- Manure Clamps – These must be of sufficient volume to contain the solid manure. No manure produced by the establishment is to be spread on land between the 15th of October and 15th of March and thus should be contained within the manure clamp. They should also be constructed of an impervious material/flooring and consist of a number of ventilation ports. Overspilling of manure from the manure clamp is prohibited.
- Settling Tanks and Cesspits – Settling tanks and cesspits that enclose manure generated by the animal holding units must be separate to those that lead to the main drain. The farm operators are required to separate the solid and liquid components of the sludgy manure within the settling tanks. The cesspit should only contain purified water, which is later collected by authorised bowsers that discard it at any facility that is authorised to treat such material. Some farms are allowed to hold a separator and macerator as an alternative method of waste separation.
Solid manure can be used as fertiliser, between the 16th of March and 14th of October by the operators themselves, sold to arable and other farmers, or else, disposed of at a waste management facility that can treat the organic fraction resulting from such manure. Any transportation of waste must be done via authorised vehicles in possession of a consignment permit. Moreover, operators must keep record of the final destination.
The management of manure depends on the type of farm. Farms that fall within the remit of the ERA include, amongst others, cattle farms, sheep farms, broiler farms, layer farms and pig farms.