Pig and Poultry Assurance Scheme

The Pig and Poultry Quality Assurance scheme is an initiative to reduce farm visits and costs

Pig and poultry producers achieving a high standard of compliance with their environmental permit can join the Pig and Poultry Assurance Scheme.

Each farm will save £1476 from Natural Resources Wales annual charges and will be visited by NRW only once every three years.

Farms will be inspected by the certification bodies for other schemes (such as Red Tractor Assurance and Lion Code of Practice) while already carrying out their annual audits.

Farms can choose who will be their certification body. The certification body will make their own charge.

Who can join the scheme

To be eligible to join the scheme, a farm must:

  • have had at least two inspections since gaining a permit
  • be well managed, demonstrating compliance with permit condition 1.1
  • be implementing all permit improvement conditions to an approved timescale

Farms will not be eligible to join the scheme if they:

  • have an improvement condition relating to ammonia emissions
  • are the subject of any outstanding enforcement action by Natural Resources Wales
  • are operated by someone who has received a conviction relating to the farm in the previous three years for a case brought by Natural Resources Wales, or have accepted a formal caution in relation to such an offence in the previous two years
  • have more than ten Compliance Classification Scheme (CCS) points in the previous calendar year
  • have any unresolved amenity issues or be a Site of High Public Interest
  • are in arrears for Environmental Permitting Regulations charges

How the scheme works

Once a farm has joined the scheme, we'll give its nominated certification body (CB) a copy of the permit and any variations, enforcement positions and formal notices relevant to permit compliance.

The CB will carry out one visit for every year that the farm remains in the scheme. NRW will visit once every three years. Farms not in the scheme will be inspected by us at least once each year.

We remain responsible for regulation but the information the CB collects on our behalf will help us to assess whether a farm is complying with its permit. Immediately after the inspection the CB will provide NRW and you with the information they have collected. Your Environment Officer (EO) or area point of contact (APOC) will send you a Compliance Assessment Report which details our assessment of the findings.

You can continue to contact your local EO at any time for advice, especially when you're considering making changes to your farm.

How to join the scheme

We assess permitted farms that are not members of the scheme in January each year to see if they're eligible to join. In February/March we write to the operators of eligible farms to invite them to join the scheme from April. If you wish to join the scheme, you'll need to get in touch with one of the approved CBs specified in the invitation letter. The CBs will provide further details of their procedures and the charges that will apply.

You don't need to be a member of another farm assurance scheme to join this scheme.

You can choose to leave the scheme part way through the year. You'll be liable to pay NRW the higher non-accredited subsistence charge, pro-rata from the date of leaving the scheme.

You don't need to renew your scheme membership every year - your farm remains in the scheme as long as it does not meet any of the criteria for expulsion, or you notify us or your CB of your intention to leave the scheme.

Unless you wish to change CB you don't have to contact your CB before the next scheme year, they will contact you to request their annual payment.

If your farm has been transferred to you it can remain in the scheme as long as the next two visits both have a CCS score of 10 points or less. If you vary your permit your farm will remain in the scheme.

If your farm is empty

If your farm has no livestock and is empty, it does not need to be visited. An empty farm has a minimal environmental risk and so can remain in the scheme, pay the lower subsistence charge but not be visited. You must let us know when you restock so inspections can begin again.

Farm visit results

We'll write to tell you the results of the visit. If the farm is complying with its permit, no further action will be taken until the next inspection (unless a complaint or an incident is reported that requires a visit).

If there are areas of non-compliance for which you already have a correction plan agreed with your EO, you won't need to take any action as a result of the CB’s visit. We'll write to confirm this.

If there are any areas of non-compliance that are not already dealt with in a correction plan, we'll write specifying the information that's needed. After assessing the information collected by the CB we may decide it's necessary to visit the farm, for example, to address urgent non-compliances and potential/actual incidents. The results of all inspections will be placed on the public register.

Expulsion from the scheme

Your farm can be expelled from the scheme part way through the year. This may happen if you:

  • you fail to comply with an enforcement notice or any notice served by Natural Resources Wales, including Emissions Inventory Reporting
  • you are prosecuted by Natural Resources Wales
  • you accept a formal caution for a breach of your permit conditions
  • you fail to pay your EPR charges
  • you fail to have an annual CB visit, or fail to cooperate reasonably with the CB, for example, to arrange visits, provide access to relevant areas or records, or if you fail to pay for the CB visit
  • you fail to make improvements to rectify non-compliance within agreed timescales (Natural Resources Wales may exercise discretion where there are extenuating circumstances), or refuse to agree reasonable timescales
  • your farm scores more than 30 CCS points during a CB or EO inspection, or has more than 10 permit breaches in a single inspection, or if there is a gross failure of permit condition 1.1
  • your farm is designated as a Site of High Public Interest
  • your farm scores more than 10 non-compliance points per visit for the two visits (one by the CB, one by the EO) after the permit has been transferred from one operator to another.

When a farm is expelled from the scheme part way through the year we will charge you the higher, non-accredited, subsistence fee for the remainder of the year.

The farm will not be able to re-join the scheme until the EO has carried out two more visits and is satisfied that it is eligible again.

What is outstanding enforcement action

Outstanding enforcement action is:

  • any formal cautions that have been offered but not accepted
  • any prosecutions that are pending or which have begun but which have either not yet gone to court or have gone to court but the judgement is being appealed
  • any notices which have been issued and which have not yet been fully complied with
  • activities that led to a warning letter being received including awaiting a decision in respect of enforcement action
  • the carrying out of an enforcement response
  • carrying out a post-conviction plan

Outstanding enforcement action is not:

  • any prosecution that has gone before the court and any fines and costs have been accepted and the verdict of which is not subject to an appeal 
  • any formal caution that has been offered and accepted
  • any notices that have been issued and the conditions contained within them have been fully complied with

Further information

Contact your Environment Officer for more information about joining the scheme.

Inspection standards, including a checklist of what your farm will be assessed on, will be sent to you when you join the scheme.