The Environment Agency for England has issued a new regulatory position statement (RPS 71), which applies to business who need to dispose of trees and plants that are infected with the following diseases without an environmental permit for a waste operation:
- Phytophthora ramorum
- Phytophthora kernoviae
- Chalara fraxinea (C. fraxinea fungus)
- Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus (H. pseudoalbidus)
As with all Environment Agency RPS, if you follow its conditions, you do not need to apply for the full requirements for an environmental permit provided the activity does not (and is not likely to) cause environmental pollution or harm human health.
However, if you cannot comply with its conditions then you must apply for an environmental permit for the disposal of trees and planets infected by disease.
It should be noted that the Environment Agency and other Environment Agencies within the United Kingdom are not the sole regulatory agency, the Food and Environment Research Agency and Forestry Commission are responsible for controlling the spread of these fungi. If these diseases are found, they’ll issue a plant health notice that tells you what you must do to eradicate and contain these fungi.
These actions will be to:
- remove and destroy plants and trees
- remove and destroy plant debris and surrounding leaf litter
- eradicate surrounding plants and trees so that the disease is contained
- remove and bury soil associated with the diseased plants
Disposal of trees and plants
Vegetation and trees infected with the above diseases must be disposed of in accordance with the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations, which can involve the process to Register your waste exemptions: environmental permits (England) with the Environment Agency to:
- burn plant tissue waste and wood where it is felled – see
- dispose of agricultural plant tissue waste by felling – see Waste exemption: D4 depositing agricultural waste consisting of plant tissue under a Plant Health Notice – you do not need to register a waste exemption to fell trees that are not on agricultural land as long as you comply with this RPS
- dispose of soil and plant tissue by deep burial
Alternative, you can take round wood from infected felled trees to mills and wood processing facilities as long as they have the necessary licences from the Forestry Commission.
You must make sure the way you dispose of trees and plants infected with disease does not endanger human health or the environment. You must not:
- cause a risk to water, air, soil, plants or animals
- cause a nuisance through noise or odours
- adversely affect the countryside or places of special interest
Time Expiry of RPS
RPS 71 is time-limited for a further review in August 2020. You should check back with the Environment Agency on the outcome of their review later in 2020.
A copy of the Environment Agency’s Regulatory Position Statement 71 is freely available here