Ragwort: Guidance on the disposal options for common ragwort (PB11050)

Controlled burning and small scale incineration

When to use this option
  • For disposing of small quantities where ragwort can be safely wilted prior to burning/incineration.

The secure storage and controlled burning of less than 10 tonnes per day of plant matter may be allowed under an exemption from the Environment Agency within the Waste Management Licensing Regulations or the Agricultural Waste Regulations.

An exemption is not required for domestic sites.

An exemption is allowed under the regulations above provided waste disposal is undertaken by the owner at the site where it was generated and is from agricultural premises or other relevant land including railway land, forest, woodland and recreational land.

Small scale incineration using a recognised device is preferable to open burning as it provides a greater degree of control and is less likely to cause dark smoke or a public nuisance. It is suitable where ragwort is collected in paper sacks and can be dried sufficiently so that it will burn. It is also suitable for ragwort that has been deflowered and wilted.

Weather conditions (especially wind direction) must be taken into account with due consideration for neighbouring ground cover, combustible vegetation, buildings and housing. Causing nuisance from smoke and deposits from bonfires is an offence8.

Who can do this
  • Domestic

You should check with your Local Authority as some Local Authorities have bylaws prohibiting the burning of garden waste.

  • Non-Domestic

You should contact the Environment Agency to register an exemption to use this option where the disposal rate is less than 10 tonnes per day9.

When burning or incinerating, various precautions need to be taken to reduce fire risks especially in regard to siting and supervision.

What is required

A proprietary small-scale incinerator, with a lid complete with chimney or flue and a secure area where the risks of the fire, smoke or residues from the fire will have minimal impact on the environment and neighbours.

Where to site it

The incinerator should be located away from any ditch, watercourse or area where animals are kept. It must be well away from any fuel tanks, gas storage cylinders, buildings, domestic property or road.

Due consideration must be taken to avoid nuisance and risk to others.

How to go about it

The aim is to provide a two stage process: firstly the storage and drying of the sacks of ragwort and secondly to burn the material within the heart of the fire or incinerator. Using paper sacks will allow some wilting to take place. Plastic sacks should not be used for wilting and should not be burnt.

For small quantities bags can be stored in the incinerator, and when dried could then be burnt. For larger quantities the ragwort will need to be wilted, under cover before burning. Steps should be taken to minimise the risk that seed will set and disperse during drying. This can be achieved by deflowering the ragwort plants prior to wilting and sealing the seed heads in bags prior to incineration or landfill.

The addition of straw, dry brush wood or hedge trimmings will help the fire to burn. Where an incinerator is used the sacks of plant residues should be loaded into the incinerator only one at a time, and the flue/lid replaced each time. This will draw the exhaust smoke and gases and help maintain the temperature. From time to time, more dry brush wood/hedge clippings should be added to maintain the seat of the fire.

8 Environmental Protection Act 1990 Part III section 79
9 The Waste Management (England & Wales) Regulations 2005

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