HC Deb 11 November 1992 vol 213 cc875-6
13. Mr. Roy Hughes

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what recent discussions he has had with local authorities concerning future policy on the disposal of hazardous waste.

Mr. Maclean

I have had no recent discussions with local authorities on hazardous waste policy issues, but my officials have regular meetings with representatives of the local authority associations on waste issues.

Mr. Hughes

Will the Minister confirm that the EC directive prohibiting the importation of hazardous waste will not come into operation until May 1994 at the earliest? What is to happen in the meantime? Will he ensure that local authorities are not overruled when they refuse to grant permission for those waste disposal plants? Does he appreciate that, in Newport at present, an appeal is outstanding from the American concern, Browning Ferris? It is generally recognised locally that Newport needs Browning Ferris like it needs a hole in the head.

Mr. Maclean

I must congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend on his remarkable success at the last Council of Ministers meeting. For many months, we had not reached agreement and, at the first meeting that he chaired, he managed to get the waste shipments regulation agreed. We shall have the benefit of that regulation when it comes into force in 1994. We were keen to get it because we had no effective means of cutting off the importation of overseas hazardous waste without that international agreement.

Planning matters must be decided according to planning rules and it would be wrong to try to manipulate the planning system to deal with importation and exportation of waste. We now have the new directive and we want to ensure that we can bring forward our national self-sufficiency plans so that we can implement them when the directive takes effect. In that way, we shall begin to turn off the taps on the importation of waste from developed countries that should deal with it themselves.