Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Farm animal incineration

Burning animal carcasses

This guidance is relevant if you have to burn dead animals on your land. For example, you may have an incinerator, or you may need to burn carcasses if there is a disease outbreak.

If you don't have an incinerator, see our guidance on disposing of carcasses

What you must do

Burning carcasses in the open

You must not burn any animal carcasses in the open. The only exceptions are during disease outbreaks or similar circumstances if you have authorisation from the Animal and Plant Health Agency in Scotland or DAERA in Northern Ireland. You must also contact your environmental regulator before you incinerate animal carcasses.

Scotland: Animal and Plant Health Agency

DAERA helpline numbers

Contact your environmental regulator

Burning carcasses in incinerators

If you operate an on-farm incinerator that only burns whole carcasses, you must ensure the incinerator is approved by:

  • Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland.
  • Animal and Plant Health Agency in Scotland

Northern Ireland: Divisional Veterinary Offices

Scotland: Animal and Plant Health Agency

If you burn non-agricultural animal carcasses or parts of animal carcasses, your incinerator must be authorised by your local council or your environmental regulator, in addition to Animal Health or DAERA.


Pollution prevention and control permits

Exemptions for small-scale incinerators

In Northern Ireland, if you operate a small-scale onsite incinerator for whole animal carcasses you must register an exemption from waste management licensing with NIEA.

NIEA Waste management licensing exemptions

In Scotland, you must not operate an animal carcass incinerator without consulting SEPA.

SEPA: Contact details

Incinerating other types of waste

If you incinerate materials other than animal carcasses, eg meat, bone meal and tallow, or packaging waste, you may have to comply with waste incineration regulations. See our waste incineration guidance.

Good practice

If you are authorised to burn carcasses you should take a number of steps to reduce your environmental impact.

Avoid producing dark smoke by:

  • placing primary fuel (eg straw, fuel oil, heavy untreated timbers, coal) in the base of the fire, and the carcasses on top
  • designing the pyre to allow burning to take place up and through the material rather than from the top down; this creates a much higher temperature and reduces the risk of creating dark smoke
  • never using plastics or tyres as fuel.

You should:

  • supervise burning at all times and have a fire extinguisher, water supply or a bowser available for emergencies
  • only burn carcasses in daylight hours
  • contact your local fire brigade to let them know you are burning, before lighting the fire.

Further Information

Northern Ireland: DAERA Guidance - Incineration and Rendering

SEE ALSO: Carcass disposal,  Agriculture guidance

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