U13 waste exemption: spreading plant matter to provide benefits

The U13 exemption allows you to spread cut plant material at the place of production for weed suppression or to provide nutrients to the soil.

Types of activity you can carry out

These could include:

  • you are strimming plants along the central reservation of a motorway and want to leave the plants where they are cut to provide nutrients to the soil
  • you are strimming plants along the banks of a river or along a railway embankment and want to leave the plants where they are cut to stop weeds growing

Types of activity you cannot carry out

You cannot:

  • bring in plant matter from other places to spread
  • move plant matter from where it is grown to spread it somewhere else unless it is treated first, see related exemptions

Types of waste you can use

The waste codes are listed in the List of Wastes (LoW) Regulations. You need to make sure your waste fits within the waste code and the description.

Waste code Type of waste
020103, 020107, 020304, 200201 Plant tissue only

Key conditions

You can only spread plant matter under this exemption if, at the time of spreading:

  • the land has not been frozen for 12 hours or more in the preceding 24 hours
  • the land is not waterlogged, frozen or covered with snow

The maximum amount you can spread over any 12 month period cannot exceed 50 tonnes per hectare.

You should only spread the minimum amount needed to provide benefits:

  • except for plant tissue spread on the bank of a waterway, you must not spread waste within 50 metres of a watercourse, spring, well or borehole
  • you should only use as much waste as is needed to achieve the intended benefit - if you apply more material than appears reasonable, the Environment Agency may consider this as disposal of waste

If you want to spread waste plant matter somewhere other than where it was grown, you could compost the waste under T23: anaerobic composting

and then spread it under either:

Or you may wish to shred it first under T6: treating waste wood and waste plant matter by chipping, shredding, cutting or pulverising and then use it under U12: using mulch.

Register a U13 exemption

You need to register this exemption with the Environment Agency if you meet the requirements:

Published 28 April 2014