Biogas producers in RUKS (Rest of UK excluding Scotland) now no longer need to pay for permits or waste handling controls to use fruit and vegetable by-products in the anaerobic digestion (AD) process, the English Environment Agency has announced.
Previously, the addition of even a small quantity of these by-products into the AD process (such as leaves and roots, or produce that is misshapen, bruised or undersized) would require operators to apply for expensive permits and implement the same waste handling controls as a commercial food waste AD plant.
The change to the regulations follows sustained campaigning from the London-based UK Renewable Energy Association (REA) on this issue, including a letter to English Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, in June this year.
In Scotland, the Scottish Government ‘recognises the wide benefits of bioenergy and seeks to encourage the most efficient and beneficial use of biomass.’
A Scot-Govt. spokesman at St. Andrew’s House in Edinburgh added: “In Scotland a waste management licence is required to process kitchen and canteen waste for use in an Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Plant if the daily input capacity is less than 10 tonnes.
“The recently passed Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 enables the development of a new, integrated environmental permitting regime.
“The Scottish Government and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) will use this opportunity to review the permitting arrangements for waste management activities, including AD.
“The intention is to provide a scheme where the regulatory control is proportionate to the risks posed by the activity and we will be looking at how to encourage small scale food waste AD.”
Meanwhile, Branston Ltd – which is a member of the Renewable Energy Association (REA) of the UK – a potato producer with sites in Lincolnshire, Scotland and south west England is one of the companies set to benefit from this change.
Vidyanath Gururajan, Innovations Director, Branston Ltd, said: “It is very encouraging to see that the Environment Agency has issued a briefing note to differentiate crop residues from food waste. This is definitely a step in the right direction for encouraging the fresh produce industry to use AD technology to reduce its carbon emissions.
“I sincerely thank the REA for taking up this subject and seeing it through with Environment Agency. We look forward to seeing this guidance implemented consistently across the UK.”