jim thackerey jimthackery at
Mon Oct 8 16:37:36 BST 2001

Here you go

HI all, this has just been sent to me by the community
Composting Network ( ccn at ).  Please spread
it far and wide.

4th October 2001

Dear Friends,

I am writing to you as part of the Community
Composting Network.  We are trying to build a
coalition to tackle some very bad decisions being made
by DEFRA and the Environment Agency.  I am about to
write a briefing paper on the subject, so I will try
to keep this letter short, and follow it up with the
briefing paper.

On the 13th June the Environment Agency announced at
the Institute of Waste Management Conference an
amendment to the Animal By-Products Order.  It is now
illegal to compost organic kitchen waste from both
domestic and commercial sources, and then use the
material on the land.  Technically this includes home
composters as well, but it is unlikely that they would
be prosecuted.

This is part of the fall out of Foot and Mouth
Disease.  The justification is that all kitchen scraps
could either include meat and dairy products or have
been in contact with meat in the kitchen.  Infection
could then be passed to birds and livestock either
during the composting process or while the compost is
used outside.  

There are countless problems with this line of
thinking, and I don’t see them trying to ban the
hazardous part, namely the sales of meat and dairy
produce.  Instead they are quite clearly going for the
wrong end of the stick.

This ruling has several implications.  One is the
damage it will do to both community and farm site
composters.  These are projects that have taken a lot
of hard work over the years and they are being
disregarded in the name of no vaccinations.  It is
unclear yet what will happen to a group if they
continue to compost, but they can and may be
prosecuted.  I can also say that local authorities
such as Chesterfield have had to abandon plans to
start a kerbside collection round for organic kitchen

With these constraints community industries are being
crushed and the knock on effect is that there is less
environmentally sustainable employment, less training
opportunities for the community and less educational
activities about sustainable environmental practice. 
We will no longer be able to produce a valuable
locally produced alternative to shop bought peat based
compost products.  These are all things provided by
Community Composters

The second implication is what will happen to the
waste instead.  It is either going to go to landfill
or incineration.  Landfill sites are hardly free of
birds and rats scavenging for food so this option is
the same as composting.  Incinerators on the other
hand need to stay at high temperatures to burn the mix
of chemicals they put in them ‘safely’(?!), and the
reason behind Sheffield incinerator having one of the
worst records in the country is that they put to much
organic waste in, which takes us back to composting.

This change in the regulations is not necessarily
permanent and there is a consultation process going on
as we speak.  It has been said that this could take
several months, but there have been hints that there
could be announcements in the next few weeks.  We are
assuming that, given the history of short sightedness
in environmental decision making in this country, the
decisions may well not go in our favour.

We would like to get this out to as many environmental
groups and journalists as possible, so that if they
do, as we fear, make the wrong decisions, then there
are as many people as possible to tackle the issue. 
Please circulate this letter to anybody you think may
be interested.

In the meantime you can contact Phillip Walker of the
Environment agency on
Philip.Walker at
020 7944 6404

Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs
Ashdown House
123 Victoria Street

I look forward to working with you in the future.


Nick McAllister

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