Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has today (Wednesday) repeated his call for a targeted exemption under the Islands Act on restrictions on burning plastics by farmers and crofters in the smaller isles.
Since January 2019, farmers and crofters have been banned from burning most types of agricultural waste, including silage wrap, crop covers and fertiliser bags.
During Portfolio Questions, Mr McArthur acknowledged the benefits of this restriction more widely in reducing emissions and waste. He went on to highlight, however, that for farmers and crofters in smaller islands compliance involves considerable financial and environmental costs in storing and shipping.
In response, Ms Cunningham agreed that the farmers in the islands face distinct challenges when it comes to disposal of plastics and confirmed that she was happy to discuss the matter further with Mr McArthur.
Afterwards, Mr McArthur commented:
“Plastic pollution causes significant harm to our environment and the ban on burning plastic was a welcome move in reducing emissions and ensuring that steps are taken to recycle plastic safely.
“However, the requirement has undoubtedly caused significant challenges for farmers and crofters in Orkney, particularly those in the smaller isles. They don’t have ready access to the market for plastics, unlike counterparts on the Scottish mainland.
“There is an argument that shipping plastics by ferry results in further environmental costs and is therefore counterproductive. It would therefore seem sensible to look at how a targeted exemption under the Islands Act might be applied.
“I’m pleased that the Cabinet Secretary recognises the problem and has agreed to meet with me to further discuss what might be done. I look forward to those discussions and hope a pragmatic solution might be reached that meets the needs of the environment as well as local farmers and crofters.”