Government arena surface rules come into force *H&H Plus*

  • New legislation that sets a legal, industry standard for how waste carpet can be used in arena surfaces has come into force. H&H speaks to lawmakers and industry figures to find out what this will mean

    A MAJOR step has been made towards ensuring arena surfaces are safe and not harmful to the wider environment.

    The Environment Agency (EA) is steadily cracking down on materials used in equestrian surfaces, and this new move comes with strict criteria.

    New legislation that sets a legal, industry standard – known as a “regulatory position statement” – for how waste carpet can be used in arena surfaces has come into force.

    “This regulatory position statement only applies to waste carpet that has been shredded or is in fibre form before it is used,” states the EA.

    It adds that this covers discarded carpet fibres and offcuts from new carpets manufactured in the UK and the EU that are classed as waste, and treated post-consumer waste carpet with all physical contaminants including, but not limited to metal, carpet grippers and non-carpet based plastics removed.

    The strict new rules include set limits on the amount of carpet fibre in new all-weather arenas and surface top-ups, what sort of waste carpet can be used and the treatment it receives, and the distance between a new surface and watercourses as well as other protected sites (50m).

    The EA must also be informed before it is used, and records kept for at least two years.

    The industry knew these rules were coming and has been working with the EA to shape them.

    A Defra spokesman confirmed to H&H that the new regulations only apply for new surfaces and top-ups of existing surfaces, and that it does not apply retrospectively, so there is no need for existing surfaces to be removed.

    Carpet Gallop managing director Mark Gilbert told H&H the new regulation is a “great outcome”.

    “The industry has worked hard behind the scenes with the project driven by Carpet Recycling UK (CRUK) and brought together a range of suppliers who on a day-to-day basis compete,” he said.

    He added that the new regulation is “not so much a victory for our sector, but a start of a process” for a final “end-of-waste” position for carpet fibre to be achieved.

    “In addition, we collectively showed how arenas and gallops should be built – regardless of the surface chosen – to avoid any impact on the environment. Planning permission should be gained by anyone building a gallop or an arena, and they should build it with correct drainage and surface containment,” he said.

    Mr Gilbert added that concerns over other types of surface were also highlighted to the EA, and reminded equestrians that the use of PVC granulate is banned (news, 16 August 2018).

    “[Carpet Gallop is] committed to making improvements in line with the regulations and will continue as a major contributor to the efforts of CRUK and our competitors as together we are making huge inroads that ultimately benefit all who have a deep-rooted love of all things equine,” he said.

    Justin Chittenden, managing director of Equine Health Centre whose brands include Equivia Equestrian Surface, told H&H: “There has always been some concern, both on an environmental and user front, about the use of waste carpet in equestrian surfaces due to the level of contaminants, such as metal and plastics, that find their way into the surface.”

    He added that the company has always used clean, post-industrial fibres that are permitted under the new regulations, rather than post-consumer fibres.

    “This provides many benefits in so much as we are using a by-product of manufacturing. We use clean and traceable components and we can be certain of using fibres that are both safe for the environment and for the horses that use the surface,” he said.

    “We’re pleased to see the Government and the Environment Agency taking this issue seriously by issuing the regulations and further clarification on what constitutes waste carpet.”

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