As farm businesses seek to become more efficient and sustainable for the future, farm steadings continue to be developed with the addition of housing to accommodate increased livestock numbers, as well as providing increased capacity for feed storage and for the storage for slurries and manures.
This information note provides a brief outline of the legislative requirements that need to be adhered to in relation to the construction of the following:
- Slurry stores (towers, lagoons, concrete tanks)
- Silage pits and effluent tanks
- Farm sheds and buildings
The new Water Environment Controlled Activities Regulations (CAR) is also considered within the context of slurry storage capacity requirements.
|Planning Permission & Building Warrants
As a rule, planning permission is required for all new developments and extensions including buildings, engineering, and other operations in, on, over or under land and for change of use of buildings or land.
A developer must notify the planning authority of proposals using a Prior Notification form to determine whether prior approval in the form of a planning application is or is not required.
You should apply for prior notification and prior approval if any of the following apply:
- Build or significantly alter/extend agricultural or forestry buildings. A significant alteration or extension is one which would result in:
- The cubic content of the original building being increased by more than 20%, or
- The height of the building exceeding the height of the original building
- Form or alter a private way
- Carry out excavation or engineering operations in relation to a farm or forestry undertaking
The planning authority has 28 working days from receipt of the application to respond and may request a full planning application to be made if it considers that the development is likely to have a significant impact on the surroundings.
Planning permission is always required if any of the following apply to the proposed development:
- Carried out on farm holdings of less than 0.4ha
- The construction, extension or alteration of any building or structure or plant over:
- 1000m2 in area unless within National Parks or National Scenic Areas.
- 12m in height
- 3m in height where the building is within 3km of an aerodrome
- Within 25m of a metalled trunk or classified road
- The construction or carrying out of any works to a building used, or to be used, for housing intensive livestock or for the storage of slurry or sewage sludge where that building is within 400m of a protected building (a building normally occupied by people but buildings which form part of a working farm or certain specialist industrial buildings).
A building warrant is a legal permit to protect people’s health, safety and welfare. The requirements are set by the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004.
All agricultural buildings on agricultural land in Scotland are exempt from the need for a building warrant except the following:
- Buildings over 280m2 in area
- Buildings within 6m or the equivalent of its height (whichever is less) of a boundary
- A dwelling, residential building, office, canteen, or visitor centre
- A dungstead, slurry or farm effluent tank
|Quick Guide – Points to Consider for Farm Development Projects
Slurry Stores (incorporating Lagoons, Towers, and Concrete Tanks)
- In accordance with the new Water Environment Controlled Activities Regulations, from 1st January 2022, if constructing a new slurry storage system, SEPA will be asking for the provision of a minimum 22 weeks overall winter storage capacity (in combination with existing on farm slurry storage) for cattle slurry and 26 weeks storage for pig slurry (see further guidance below – Recent Changes to Water Environment CAR). Transitional arrangements apply for existing slurry stores, depending upon the date of construction.
- Slurry stores that were constructed before 1st September 1991 no longer have exempt status and must comply with 22 weeks storage requirement (cattle slurry) by 1st January 2026.
- Slurry stores that were constructed after 1st September 1991 must comply with 22 weeks storage capacity by 1st January 2024.
- You must involve an engineer in the design of the slurry store.
- You must contact SEPA at least 30 days before commencing works(ie pegging out site or prior to soil excavation).
- Planning permission will be required unless one of the exemptions apply. This will depend upon the size and location of the proposed store, as per the guidance supplied above (see Planning Permission).
- All structures (lagoons, towers, tanks) must be structurally sound and must comply with a basic set of construction standards. Any outlets must have double locked valves.
- Freeboard allowance: 750mm for earthbank lagoons. 300mm for concrete tanks and steel towers.
Silage Pits & Effluent Tanks
- You must contact SEPA at least 30 days before commencing works on building a new silage pit or substantially reconstructing / enlarging an existing silage pit.
- An engineer must be consulted to provide design plans and a sign-off certificate.
- You will need to contact the local authority to establish if planning permission is required. This will depend upon the size of the pit.
- All structures must comply with a basic set of constructions standards, be structurally sound with impermeable floor, no cracks, and have a suitably sized effluent collection facility.
- Silage pits and effluent tanks that were constructed before 1st September 1991 no longer have exempt status and must comply with 22 weeks storage requirement (cattle slurry) by 1st January 2026.
- Silage pits and effluent tanks that were constructed after 1st September 1991 must comply with 22 weeks storage capacity by 1st January 2024.
- Contact the local authority to determine if planning permission is required. This will depend upon the size and location of the proposed shed, as per the guidance supplied above.
- Farm sheds greater than 1000m2 will require planning permission.
- Planning authorities have 28 days working days to respond to you.
- Typical timescale for planning permission to be granted is between 2 – 4 months and issue of a decision notice.
- You need to confirm to the planning authorities when you are commencing works and again when works have been completed.
- A building warrant will be required unless one or more of the listed exemptions apply (see Building Warrant section above).
- An application for a building warrant will typically take 6 – 8 weeks to process.
|Summary of Key Points
|Recent Changes to the Water Environment Controlled Activities Regulations:
Impacts for Slurry Storage Requirement and Slurry Spreading
The Water Environment Controlled Activities Regulations (CAR) have been updated to include the 2003 “SSAFO Regs”, formally known as the Control of Pollution (Silage, Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil) (Scotland) Regulations 2003, (as amended) putting most of the regulations about slurry and silage handing and storage into one place. The new legislation does contain transition periods for specific requirements, and these timescales are summarised below:
|1st January 2022
|New slurry stores to provide 22 weeks storage capacity for cattle slurry and 26 weeks storage capacity for pig slurry in combination with existing on farm slurry storage facilities. SEPA must be informed at least 30 days prior to the commencement of works on new builds, substantial reconstruction, or enlargement of slurry stores and silage pits.
|1st January 2023
|The use of a rain gun, high trajectory splash plate and swivel spreader are banned.
An inverted splash plate can continue to be used provided you don’t fall within one of the categories below when slurry must be applied using a precision application equipment (dribble bar, trailing shoe or injector).
• Where:Slurry is applied by contractors
• Slurry is applied on farms with more than 100 milking cows.
• Slurry is applied on farms with more than 200 beef livestock units..
• Slurry is applied on pig units with more than 800 fattening pigs or 800 sows.
|1st January 2024
|Post 1991 slurry stores and silage pits must meet the new standards.
|1st January 2026
|Pre-1991 slurry stores and silage pits must meet the new standards.
Sufficient slurry storage for 22 weeks for cattle
Sufficient slurry storage for 26 weeks for pigs
Quantities calculated using the NVZ regulations
|1st January 2027
|Use of inverted splash plates banned on all farms. Use of precision slurry application equipment only, on all farms.
The follow sources may also provide useful information:
- Farming & Water Scotland website – provides further detail on changes to the Controlled Activities Regulations.
- The Farm Management Handbook (Land and Buildings section) – provides further information in relation to when planning permission is required and the potential costs. The Farm Management Handbook is available for download free of charge at: www.fas.scot/publication/fmh2022/
Sign up to the FAS newsletter
Receive updates on news, events and publications from Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service