Buried pets are waste, not landfill, says minister

Cats and dogs buried in pet cemeteries are likely to escape the fate of being labelled landfill following a ministerial intervention, although they will continue to be treated as waste as far as environmental regulations are concerned.

Pet burial grounds are technically landfill sites under European law, bringing proposals to make them subject to Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) rules.

But the plans met with hostility from some pet owners, and strong protests from the operators of England’s 25 pet cemeteries. PPC rules would require pet cemeteries to obtain costly permits, which would force some to close down, they said.

Environment minister Ben Bradshaw eased their fears when he chose to intervene on Wednesday.

Far from posing the sort of health and pollution problems associated with landfill sites, pet cemeteries were “low-risk” sites and should therefore not be further financially penalized, he said.

Burial sites of domestic animals are currently covered by the waste management licensing agreement. A Defra consultation expected later this year will propose that they keep this status, the minister said.

Mr Bradshaw expressed his sympathy with the owners of deceased pets, and acknowledged the aesthetic as well as sanitary differences between landfill sites and the animals’ final resting places.

“Pet cemeteries often have beautifully maintained grounds, and their operators feel that such gardens of remembrance should not be classed as landfill sites,” he said.

“I agree that the burial of a small number of pets or the spreading of ashes from pet crematoria odo not merit the same level of regulation as traditional landfill sites and there should be no extra financial burden places upon pet owners at such a difficult time.”

Goska Romanowicz

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