HC Deb 05 August 1975 vol 897 cc116-8W
Mr. Monro

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is now in a position to announce a timetable for the implementation of the Control of Pollution Act.

Mr. Molloy

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about the implementation of the Control of Pollution Act 1974.

Mr. Denis Howell

My right hon. Friend and I have had further discussions with the Local Authority Associations about the implementation of the Act in England and Wales.

Provisions which introduce only discretionary powers or which do not involve significant public expenditure will be implemented as soon as practicable. This means that a number of provisions in Parts I (Waste on Land) and II (Pollution of Water)—notably those dealing with the reclamation of waste and the discharge of trade effluent—and the whole of Parts III (Noise), IV (Pollution of the Atmosphere), V (Supplementary Provisions) and VI (Miscellaneous and General), will be brought into force within the next few months.

As regards the main provisions of Part I, the Government have formed the view that the need to strengthen controls over the disposal of waste on land make it essential to introduce the site licensing system provided for in Sections 3 to 11. Funds are therefore being transferred so as to enable local authorities to operate the new system, and we hope to bring the appropriate provisions into effect by or very soon after April 1976. It will not, unfortunately, be possible for the time being to make resources available for the survey and plan provided for in Section 2, but I hope that local authorities who are in a position to do so will go ahead with the survey and the plan in advance of the statutory provisions. It will in any case be essential for all authorities to have regard to the need for adequate facilities for all the waste that requires to be disposed of in their areas, including that generated by industry, and to operate the new system with this in mind.

The implementation of the major provisions of Part II of the Act would place water authorities in a position where they would have to incur substantial capital expenditure, at a time when they are operating under increasingly severe capital investment restrictions and when they are under great pressure to keep their charges as low as possible.

Industry is also under severe economic pressure. In these circumstances we have reluctantly come to the conclusion that it would not be reasonable to implement the major provisions of Part II of the Act. At the same time, we attach particular importance to making the administration of pollution control as open as possible, and I shall be in touch with water authorities and industry about more voluntary disclosure of information. We shall of course keep the position under constant review, with a view to implementing the whole of Part II of the Act as soon as we judge the circumstances to be right.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is considering the programme for implementation in Scotland in consultation with the convention of Scottish local authorities. He will make a separate announcement in due course.