HL Deb 18 December 2002 vol 642 cc112-8GC

(1) A local authority may designate any part of the following land in the area of the local authority as land to which this section applies—

  1. (a) a public off-street car park:
  2. (b) a recreation ground. garden, park or open space under the management or control of a local authority;
  3. (c) a path. pavement or highway which is open to public access, whether or not as of right;
  4. (d) an area of land beside a railway under the ownership or control of a railway undertaking, a station or a station forecourt.

(2) Any land so designated shall include any other area—

  1. (a) which is not within permanently enclosed premises; and
  2. (b) which is within seven metres of such land.

(3) The local authority may, when designating any land under subsection (1), provide that the designation of the land shall have effect in relation to one or more of the following—

  1. (a) commercial waste;
  2. (b) household waste; or
  3. (c) industrial waste.

(4) Any person who, without the written consent of the local authority, or in breach of any condition subject to which the local authority's consent has been given, places, or causes or permits any other person to place, commercial waste, household waste or industrial waste for collection on land which is subject to a designation under this section relating to that type of waste, shall be guilty of an offence and liable to summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.

(5) Where the Commission by any person of an offence under subsection (4) is due to the direction, act or default of some other person, that other person may be charged with and convicted of the offence by virtue of this subsection whether or not proceedings for the offence are taken against the first-mentioned person.

(6) The conditions of consent referred to in subsection (4) may include conditions as to—

  1. (a) the times during which the waste may be placed for collection or period for which the consent is valid;
  2. (b) the part of the place designated under subsection (1) where the consent is to apply;
  3. (c) the use of means by which waste can be attributed to any particular occupier of premises;
  4. (d) a requirement for a person to produce on demand to an authorised officer of a local authority or to a constable documentary evidence of the consent; and
  5. (e) any other matter that the local authority has reason to believe will reduce the depositing of waste in public open spaces and on paths, pavements or highways without consent.

(7) A local authority may charge such reasonable fee for a consent under this section as they think fit, and in setting the level of such fees shall take into consideration—

  1. (a) any reasonable costs or expected costs incurred or to be incurred in connection with the administration of the provisions of this section; and
  2. (b) the cost or expected cost of enforcing the provisions of this section.

(8) A consent under this section may be revoked and the conditions of consent may be altered by notice to the person to whom the consent was given.

(9) A person aggrieved by—

  1. (a) the withholding by the council of consent referred to in subsection (4);
  2. (b) the conditions subject to which the council give such consent; or
  3. (c) the revocation of such consent under subsection (8);

may appeal to a magistrates' court by way of complaint for an order and on such appeal the court may dismiss or allow the appeal or may vary any conditions imposed by the council.

(10) In this section "commercial waste", "household waste" and "industrial waste" have the same meanings as in section 75 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (c. 43)."

The noble Lord said: I cannot claim absolute responsibility for the authorship of the amendment, which will not surprise Members of the Committee. The provisions have been extracted, and only marginally adapted, from the London Local Authorities Bill which is currently before Parliament. They are a serious attempt to reduce the problem of all those awkward wastes that all too often result in fly-tipping.

The purpose of the amendments is to allow a local authority to designate an area—it might be a bit of derelict ground or a building site that is currently empty—where for a limited period people could deposit waste of the kind that was defined in the designation, which the local authority would itself make. It could be anything from burned out cars downwards. It could be glass, old furniture, or garden waste. At the end of the designation period, or at intervals during it, if that were necessary, the local authority would clear the site.

The Bill before Parliament deals only with London, but if those provisions were put into this Bill, all local authorities would have the power to make designations of areas within their boundaries. We might then make a considerable step towards reducing the problem of fly-tipping.

I am sorry that the amendments were tabled quite late and that the Government may not have had as much time as they would have wished to consider them. I ask them to look seriously at the amendments and to consider whether, at the very least, they are adequate to do what we are trying to achieve or whether they could devise a better amendment. Whatever happens, the Bill provides us with an opportunity to do so.

Fly-tipping does not occur only in rural areas; it is just as much a problem for people in urban areas because stuff is dumped on the street or in the garden of an empty house and so on. We are all familiar with the problem. If we could find a way to give authorities the power to give people the opportunity to dispose of such material in defined areas in a limited way for a limited period, we could go a great way towards easing a chronic problem which causes everyone everywhere a great deal of vexation.

I do not intend to say any more in moving the amendment. I look forward with interest to the reply from the Government but I hope that, in this instance, even if they cannot be positive, they will at least not be negative. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton

As the noble Lord recognised, these clauses are similar to ones included in the London Local Authorities Bill in the last Session. Those clauses were eventually withdrawn by the sponsors of the Bill. The powers that they contain are very broad. First, they give local authorities the ability to designate land for depositing waste for collection. As that is not defined within the clauses, we take it to mean collection by any party, be it the local authority or a private waste company.

Secondly, the powers would enable the local authority to designate an area as one where a number of persons may deposit their waste for collection. If that were the case, there might be a need for a designated area to be covered in some way by a waste management licence or exemption, regardless of the conditions applied to that area in any designation made by the local authority. Therefore, the Environment Agency might also need to be involved.

An alternative use of the powers would be to place requirements or conditions on the producers of waste as to when, where, how and in what receptacle their waste should be made available for collection. Many of these powers are already available to local authorities in respect of household waste under Section 46 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and, to a more limited extent, under Section 47 of that Act in respect of commercial and industrial waste. For example, a council can already place conditions upon householders in relation to the receptacles that they use for their waste, where those can be placed, how access to them should be provided, and the steps that should be taken by householders to facilitate collection. Local authorities also have the ability to make by-laws as to the times when householders may put out their waste on the highway. There are examples of this power being used in Portsmouth and Great Yarmouth.

I am not sure how anyone could view those powers as deficient. But we are concerned that the powers relating to other waste are potentially very broad, and possibly burdensome in their operation. I have covered that point fully in the hope that it may resolve the issue for the noble Lord.

Lord Dixon-Smith

I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her full and detailed reply, which I believe was not no. It certainly was not yes, but it tempts me to go back and have another shot. The Minister has raised a number of issues which could perhaps be resolved by slightly redesigning these amendments. We shall study that reply in intense detail and see if we can do that, as we believe the ambition is worthy. I am sure that, whatever else she may have said, she would agree with the ambition, if not with the method. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 151B not moved.]

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff moved Amendment No. 151C: After Clause 28, insert the following new clause—

"SUMMARY OF EFFECTS OF THIS ACT IN RELATION TO WALES The effects of this Act in relation to Wales are set out in the Schedule.

The noble Baroness said: I apologise for rushing in, but the train just made it into Paddington in time and I have just come up from Wales. I understand that the Government have given a great deal of help with previous legislation to ensure that the Explanatory Notes contain a table summarising the issues as they pertain to Wales. These changes have been particularly welcomed in the Welsh Assembly and are being welcomed by the constitutional legal department in the university, because they are making it increasingly easy to track primary and secondary legislation and the concordance of the two. I have tabled the amendments in that spirit. I beg to move.

The Duke of Montrose

Does this raise the question of whether a similar schedule should be added for the Scottish Assembly?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton

Scottish Parliament. I shall need to get guidance, because the difference between the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly is that the Parliament has power to make primary legislation and the Welsh Assembly does not. It is because of the blurring within the legislation as to which parts of the Act—we are dealing with the Explanatory Notes that go with the final Act—apply to Wales alone and which apply to Wales and England. I shall seek advice as to whether there is anything in the nature of the Bill when it becomes an Act that should need that. I do not know. However, I can assure the noble Baroness that the normal policy will continue to apply on this.

The noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, is not here, so we are about to finish the Committee stage unless the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, is going to move his amendment for him.

Lord Dixon-Smith

I am.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth

I want to back up what the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, is doing here as it is very important to the National Assembly that this goes through in the form that it is in. There have been huge and notorious problems within Wales about landfill and I know the Assembly was particularly anxious to get this through. It is good that it has been specified in this way. I back up what the noble Baroness has said about the division of powers for the National Assembly for Wales and the Scottish Parliament. She is quite right in defining them in the way she has.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton

I shall respond to the question about Scotland. Such a schedule would not be necessary in Scotland because the Scottish Parliament is also an allocating authority in Chapter 1 of the Bill. I am not quite sure how that answers the question that was posed to me, but perhaps when we both read what I have just said we may understand more. I hope that the noble Baroness will withdraw her amendment in the light of the undertaking that I have given on behalf of the Government.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

I thank the noble Baroness for her helpful reply; I also thank Members of the Committee for their support in tabling the amendment. I am delighted that it will be incorporated in the Explanatory Notes and therefore I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clauses 29 to 32 agreed to.

7.15 p.m.

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 152: Before Clause 33, insert the following new clause—

"REPORT ON CAPTURE OF COAL MINE METHANE The Secretary of State shall prepare a report on the inclusion of the capture of coal mine methane emissions from disused coal mines in the emissions trading scheme.

The noble Lord said: In the absence of my noble friend Lord Jenkin of Roding, I move Amendment No. 152. In introducing it, I should say that my noble friend has been bowled out—as I suspect that we all have—by our productivity today. Here we are finishing the Bill after only two days in Grand Committee, for which four were originally allocated. I am not sure whether that creates some sort of record or precedent but it is remarkable. I should also like to make the point that because of that original scheduling, few people were thinking about amendments to the latter part of the Bill, because they thought it would be all right to table them in January. If that produces some awkward shocks on Report, I hope that that will be understood.

With that introduction, I do not intend to speak to this amendment but felt that it was important that it should be moved. The important thing is to get the Government's response on the record. I look forward to hearing from the noble Baroness, and I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton

With respect to the inclusion of the new clause Commissioning the Secretary of State to produce a report on the inclusion of coal mine methane from abandoned mines in the UK emissions trading scheme, I note that the Bill does not attempt to set out the eligibility of individual industry sectors or particular sources of emissions for the scheme.

However, I place on record that the department are only too happy to offer the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, a meeting on this subject, particularly in the light of the circumstances tonight, before Report, if he would find that helpful. He may well be interested in some research being Commissioned outwith the passage of this Bill. In asking the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, to withdraw the amendment, perhaps I may thank all those who have made my task this afternoon such an easy one.

Lord Dixon-Smith

I am most grateful to the Minister. That reply is helpful and I am sure that my noble friend Lord Jenkin will be happy to receive it. He will also almost certainly be happy to meet the Government on the matter. Perhaps I may also thank all colleagues who have participated. This has been a remarkable achievement and I look forward to going somewhere to get a stiff drink to recover front the shock. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clauses 33 to 35 agreed to.

[Amendment No. 153 not moved.]

Bill reported without amendment.

The Committee adjourned at nineteen minutes past seven o'clock.