HC Deb 08 July 1991 vol 194 c278W
Mrs. Roe

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what further consideration he has given to arrangements for pollution control.

Mr. Heseltine

The White Paper, "This Common Inheritance", Cm 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 have decided that the time is now right to go further by bringing together the related functions of HMIP and the 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 my own and other Government Departments and the other interests involved. I am asking 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 I shall make a further announcement shortly on arrangements for taking forward this work. I shall be issuing later in the year a consultation document setting out our proposals more fully. Meanwhile, the agencies involved will continue their existing work with the full backing and support of the Government.