On 24 March 2010, an inspector dismissed an appeal made by a landowner by which he sought to establish that importation and spreading of organic waste onto agricultural land amounted to an agricultural operation and therefore did not require planning permission. The decision arose from the service of an enforcement notice by Staffordshire County Council in respect of an operation involving the spreading of imported sludge and other organic waste onto agricultural land. The Appellant appealed on the ground that it was not development. However, the Inspector accepted that it was necessary for the Appellant to demonstrate that in terms of the type, volume, timing and means of application that the spreading of waste was genuinely necessary as an agricultural fertiliser before the operation formed part of a lawful agricultural use. The Appellant failed to do so and the Inspector therefore concluded that a mixed agricultural and waste use was occurring.
This important decision puts to rest a contentious issue as to the extent to which planning control has any role in the use of imported waste as a fertiliser in agriculture. Moreover, it sets out the test to be applied in determining whether such activity amounts to an agricultural operation in planning terms or whether it is a waste operation.
Douglas Edwards QC appeared for Staffordshire County Council, instructed by Tom Edwards of Browne Jacobson, Nottingham.