HC Deb 29 July 1982 vol 28 cc701-2W
Mr. Michael Brown

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is ready to announce the results of his consultation on the revision of controls over imported waste.

Mr. Giles Shaw

On 17 December 1981 I announced that consultation would take place on three sets of measures to tighten controls over waste imported into the United Kingdom for disposal. The views of a wide range of organisations, including industry, the local authority associations, the waste disposal contractors' organisations and environmental groups have been carefully considered and I am now able to announce decisions.

First, the Control of Pollution (Licensing of Waste Disposal) Regulations will be amended to limit the quantity of solid waste which may be stored temporarily without a licence in proper receptacles up to 45 cubic metres in total at any site. Liquid waste, including that imported into storage in large industrial tanks, will now require licensing. In particular the regulations will clarify the position with regard to poisonous, noxious or polluting waste to ensure that it may not be stored on unlicensed premises except where the producer is assembling consignments of his own waste with proper precautions in the normal way, and provided that it is to be disposed of elsewhere within a month. The regulations will also clarify the position of waste transfer activities to bring them clearly within the control of licensing or the equivalent local authority power of resolution.

Secondly, we will seek to introduce legislation to provide local waste disposal authorities with a new discretionary power to bring material not admitted to be waste under the controls which are applicable to waste. Its introduction would be dependant on the availability of parliamentary time.

There will be further consultation with the major interests in England and Wales on both of those topics and my right hon. Friend will be conducting similar consultations in Scotland.

Thirdly, the Commission of the European Communities has produced a preliminary draft directive on the transfrontier shipment of waste. Consultations within the United Kingdom on its text have begun, and the Commission hopes to be ready to submit the directive to the Council of Ministers next year. The Government consider that the existing legitimate international trade in waste for disposal is responsibly operated in the United Kingdom but all firms and their associations are reminded of the importance the Government attach to the need for proper controls and consultation with the waste disposal authorities. The authorities concerned are also discussing arrangements for strengthening liaison at the ports. For these reasons, and in the light of the foregoing proposals, a standard model licence condition for pre-notification for waste imported from outside the United Kingdom is no longer necessary.

None of these proposals is intended to affect the large legitimate trade in by-products intended for recovery.