Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Disposing of waste by landspreading

Spreading certain wastes on agricultural landland spreading waste

This guidance is for farmers that import wastes such as paper sludge and food wastes to spread on their land.

What you must do

If you landspread wastes such as paper sludge, compost, dredging spoil or ash, you may need to register an exemption from waste management licensing.

If you have registered an exemption you must ensure that you do not:

  • endanger human health or cause pollution to water, air or soil
  • pose a risk to plants or animals
  • cause a nuisance, eg noise or odour
  • adversely affect the countryside or places of special interest.

Permits, exemptions and requirements for landspreading

Landspreading activity Type of permit or exemption reference
Northern Ireland Scotland
Landspreading sewage sludge on agricultural land
Read our guidance on landspreading sewage sludge
Comply with the Sludge Regulations Comply with the Sludge Regulations
Securely storing sewage sludge to be spread on agricultural land Paragraph 10 exemption Paragraph 8 exemption
Landspreading sewage sludge on non-agricultural land Paragraph 10A exemption Paragraph 8 exemption
Spreading waste on agricultural land for benefit or ecological improvement Paragraph 9 exemption Paragraph 7 exemption
Spreading waste on non-agricultural land for benefit or ecological improvement Paragraph 9 exemption Paragraph 7 exemption
Spreading waste for reclamation or improvement of land Paragraph 11 exemption Paragraph 9 exemption

Comply with the conditions of your exemptions

To qualify for exemptions from waste management licensing you must comply with other requirements. For example:

  • you must only spread waste types that are listed in the regulations
  • you must not exceed the quantities for the specific type of waste you are spreading
  • you must store waste in a secure place before spreading
  • you must not spread waste on land that is frozen, waterlogged or covered in snow
  • your treatment of land may need to benefit wildlife or agriculture.

In Northern Ireland, for a full list of exempt wastes, see Schedule 2, paragraph 9, table 3 of the Waste Management Licensing (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2003.

Waste Management Licensing Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003

In Scotland, for a full list of exempt wastes, see Appendix 4 of Section 5 of the Prevention of Environmental Pollution from Agricultural Activity (PEPFAA) Code.

Scottish Government: Section 5 of the PEPFAA Code

Nitrate vulnerable zones

In Northern Ireland all farmers must comply with spreading rules under the Nitrate Action Programme Regulations and the Phosphorous Regulations.

Northern Ireland: Nitrate Action Programme and Phosphorus Regulations

DAERA Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) & Phosphorus Regulations 2015-2018

In Scotland check if you are in a nitrate vulnerable zone (NVZ). If you are within an NVZ you will need to follow certain rules, such as limiting the amount of organic and inorganic nitrogen fertiliser you use and keeping records.

Scotland: Nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZs)

Watch our short videos:

How to protect soil and water on a farm

How to reduce costs on a farm

How to prevent diffuse pollution on a farm

Further information

Codes of good agricultural practice

The codes of good agricultural practice provide more guidance on landspreading waste.

In Northern Ireland, see section 4 of the DARD code of good agricultural practice for water, air and soil.

DAERA: Code of good agricultural practice for the prevention of pollution of water, air and soil

In Scotland, see section 5 of the Prevention of Environmental Pollution from Agricultural Activity (PEPFAA) Code.

Scottish Government: Prevention of Environmental Pollution from Agricultural Activity (PEPFAA Code) 2005 (Scotland) (Adobe PDF - 1.34MB)

Environmental regulators' web pages on exemptions

 DAERA: Activities exempt from waste management licensing

SEPA: Activities exempt from waste management licensing

SEE ALSO: Land spreading sewage sludge Guidance for the agriculture sector

Whats new on NetRegs

  • EU Exit

    EU Exit updates: Northern Ireland DAERA Brexit news, Scotland SEPA Supporting Scottish businesses with EU exit

  • Waste – Duty of Care Roles and Responsibilities

    The Northern Ireland Environment Agency has published a short guide to the duty of care responsibilities including advice and information for waste producers, carriers and those accepting, storing and treating waste.



  • EIA (Agriculture) Regulations for Northern Ireland

    Any person intending to alter the use or management of areas of uncultivated or semi-natural land must obtain prior approval from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

    Read more on the DAERA website

  • Guidance from your environmental regulator

    Regulator logos

  • 9 NEW GPPs (Guidance for Pollution Prevention) available now

    The NetRegs team at SEPA, in partnership with The Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales and a number of industry bodies have produced 9 new GPPs to replace out of date PPGs. More are coming! Check the available topics

  • New guidance

    New guidance for Start-ups, charities and community projects


NetRegs on NetRegs on youTube

View our latest videos & subscribe to our channel.

NetRegs Update Newsletter

Free monthly email newsletter with environmental updates for Northern Ireland and Scotland

Sign up for free today!


NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms