HL Deb 08 July 1991 vol 530 cc84-6WA
Lord Norrie

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What further consideration they have given to arrangements for pollution control.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Baroness Blatch)

The White Paper,This Common Inheritance (C M 1200) last year proposed a number of steps aimed at co-ordinating more closely the pollution control activities in England and Wales of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution and the National Rivers Authority. The Government has decided that the time is now right to go further by bringing together the related functions of HMIP and NRA to create a new Environment Agency. As foreshadowed in This Common Inheritance, the agency would also have responsibility for regulating the handling and disposal of waste—currently a local authority responsibility.

The creation of this agency will be a major step forward. The agency will be a non-departmental public body with a board appointed by the Government. It will provide more effective pollution control through greater integration of the staff involved; produce a single body which will be simpler and easier for industry to deal with; and ensure that arrangements for enforcing pollution control remain strong and independent and are seen to be so. It will have responsibility for monitoring the state of air and water, as well as regulating waste disposal, making proposals to government on standards and regulating emissions and discharges to achieve the standards set by government. The new agency will not affect the present division of work between the pollution control agencies and the Health and Safety Commission/ Executive.

Primary legislation to set up the new body will be required. The development of detailed proposals will require close co-operation between the Department of the Environment, my own and other government departments and the other interests involved. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment will ask Lord Crickhowell, the Chairman of the NRA, Dr. David Slater, Chief Executive of HMIP, and the leaders of the local authority associations to work closely together and we shall make a further announcement shortly on arrangements for taking forward this work. We shall be issuing later in the year a consultation document setting out our proposals more fully. Meanwhile, the agencies involved will continue with their existing work with the full backing and support of the Government.