Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Tax on horse manure

A leading UK business pressure group, FPB, says it is appalled that the horse industry is to be hit with a new stealth tax - on horse muck.

Under legislation to be enforced this July by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, equestrian businesses - from livery yards to studs and riding schools - which compost muck to use as fertiliser will have to obtain a permit costing up to £500.

The FPB's Head of Research Andrew Mowlah said the legislation would hit smaller businesses hardest.

"Yet again it appears the Government has failed to conduct a proper regulatory impact assessment and therefore small firms are going to be clobbered by this legislation,' he said. "For small yards composting is a viable and much-used alternative. Our members are telling us that this new tax is absurd and has come completely out of the blue. Manure has been spread for as long as land has been farmed, it is ludicrous now to suddenly slap a stealth tax on the industry."

Mr Mowlah said the legislation came as a double whammy, as from July 1, to compost the waste businesses will need to have installed leak-proof concrete flooring beneath the muck heaps with a sealed holding tank for the liquid which runs off - all at a cost which could run into the hundreds of pounds.

Comment from FPB member:
Keith Sanders, Manager, Northcote Heavy Horse centre, Lincolnshire " Who on earth thinks of taxing horse muck? It's an absolute farce. I'll be the first to take a lorry load of dung to Downing Street to make my point. This could cost me thousands, and yet I have no visit from a Government inspector asking how it will affect me. But no doubt the legislation will create more bureaucracy and bureaucrats. But whoever thought of this legislation does not know their dung. Horse muck is not as wet as pig or cow because it is about 60 per cent straw, so there is no need to go to the hugely expensive lengths of building new concrete floors. This will cripple many horse businesses who are already struggling with the taxation burden."

Note Manure from privately kept horses is classed as household waste and will be exempt. But manure from businesses is classified as industrial waste, so the way it is kept, treated and disposed of is currently subject to the Waste Management and Licensing Regulations (1994).One of the stipulations of these regulations is that muck must be taken away by a licensed remover, unless it is composted on site for use as a fertiliser.

A muck heap of less than five tonnes will not incur a charge, but one of between five and 50 tonnes will cost £252 for the first year and £174 thereafter, while 50-400 tonnes will cost £482 for the first year and £402 each year after that. The average horse produces nine tonnes of manure a year.

My own take

Does this mean that we will find it ever harder to obtain supplies of good manure? Just as we had decided to switch over totally to horse manure after a successful experiment this last summer. We have a planet being destroyed by global warming, whilst the Government is taxing green measures that can save a terrific amount from the carbon footprint incurred by producing chemical fertilizers. It beggars belief!

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