HC Deb 25 April 1990 vol 171 cc318-9
6. Mr. Donald Thompson: T

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what new controls he is introducing to tighten the regulation of the disposal of waste.

The Minister for the Environment and Countryside (Mr. David Trippier)

The Environmental Protection Bill will extend and strengthen local authorities' powers to control licensed waste disposal and, through the duty of care, will place new responsibilities on the producers and carriers of waste.

Mr. Thompson

In my constituency, many 'waste disposal activities have been carried out sensitively. Is my hon. Friend as worried as I am about the future plans for Todmorden moor, which lies between our constituencies, where it is intended to take out coal and put in waste?

Mr. Trippier

I am aware of the problems associated with Todmorden moor and of the keen interest and concern that characterises my hon. Friend's assiduous work in his constituency. As he knows, it will be for Calderdale metropolitan council to consider the matter and the specific points that he outlined.

Mr. Hardy

Will the controls that the Minister mentioned have any effect on the problems in my constituency, about which I know that he is concerned, or does he think that those problems can be resolved only by the legal action that is under way?

Mr. Trippier

The problem in Wath upon Dearne, to which the hon. Gentleman referred, may be settled through the courts, although whether it is to be within the jurisdiction of the American or of the British courts has still to be decided. We both know that it is a unique and difficult example. The Environmental Protection Bill strengthens controls and enshrines tougher measures covering the importation of hazardous waste.

Mr. Butler

Is my hon. Friend aware that 181 operations in London are licensed to discharge radioactivity, but do not have to reveal either what sort of radioactivity it is, or the level? Should not that be on a public register?

Mr. Trippier

The Environmental Protection Bill will enshrine legislation to cover that point. Part of it deals with radioactivity, and many other parts cover increased public access to environmental information.

Ms. Walley

In a short time, we have seen how terribly important is the control of all aspects of toxic waste. While we welcome the tighter controls that will be implemented by the Bill, will not there be a special problem with chemical special waste treatment plants and toxic waste incinerators? Despite all the Minister's assurances during the passage of the Environmental Protection Bill, will he assure us again that he is in touch with what is happening on the ground? What extra staff will be needed by Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution so that it can take on board its extra responsibilities arising from integrated pollution control when those responsibilities are transferred to it from the waste disposal authorities?

Mr. Trippier

The hon. Lady may recall that, under the Bill, the regulatory role is placed in the hands of local authorities. An environment audit on the various plans has to be submitted to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, and that is true of Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution. Relatively few staff will be involved. Responsibility for regulation will remain with the local authorities, and it will be for them to provide the necessary staff to fulfil that task. It is important that I should say that the authorities can now charge for the licensing of the sites. We believe that those charges will cover the costs of the additional staff who will be required.

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