§ Mr. Trippier
On 31 May my Department and the Welsh Office issued a circular giving guidance to those local authorities which are both waste regulation and waste disposal authorities under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 on how to separate those functions as the Act requires.
Some 30 replies were received on the draft circular, issued on 6 March, from local authority associations, individual local authorities and other interested bodies including the waste disposal industry. Responses generally supported the principle of separation, but raised a number of particular concerns.
The local authority associations expressed considerable concern over the extent of separation requested and its possible cost. We have no wish rigidly to prescribe particular administrative structures. We have therefore rewritten the circular to offer authorities more flexibility, provided that they meet the important objective of independence for the regulation authority from pressures arising from their role as disposal authorities. No long-term increase in costs should therefore be involved.
Concerns were also expressed about the future status of waste regulation and I am happy to take this opportunity to reaffirm the Government's policy that the status of waste regulation should be enhanced generally, and that this should be helped not hindered by its separation from waste disposal.
We have set a timetable, taking account of local authority concerns, for them to submit their proposals to the Secretary of State; this should be done as soon as possible and at the latest by 31 December 1991.
We have also now commenced a number of provisions of part II of the Act dealing with the establishment of waste regulation, disposal and collection authorities and some of their functions—in particular, the duty of waste regulation authorities to prepare strategic waste disposal plans for their areas.169W
§ Mr. Bowis
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will issue the expected circular on new arrangements for waste disposal operations under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, with particular reference to the introduction of competitive tendering for waste disposal contracts and the formation of local authority waste disposal companies; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Trippier
My Department and the Welsh Office issued the circular to local authorities on 29 M ay. The circular provides guidance on new arrangements for waste disposal operations under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, including the introduction of competitive tendering for waste disposal contracts, and advice on the formation of local authority waste disposal companies (LAWDCs). The new arrangements will provide the basis for fair competition and higher environmental standards in waste disposal and will, together with other parts of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, encourage the provision of improved services for the collection, keeping, treatment and disposal of waste.
There has been consultation with the local authority associations, with the waste disposal industry and with other interested parties. The advice and guidance contained in the circular reflects the concerns which have been expressed to us.
The circular explains that, under the Act, authorities will no longer be able to carry out waste disposal operations themselves. In the first instance, it will be for authorities to choose what sort of arrangements they wish to make in order to satisfy the provisions of the Act; available options include entering into a joint venture with the private sector, privatising the waste disposal undertaking or establishing a LAWDC under direction from the Secretary of State. Any authorities which do not take steps to make satisfactory new arrangements for waste disposal will he directed to form a LAWDC.
Guidance on the formation of a LAWDC is contained in the circular, as is advice on provisions to be included in a scheme to transfer the authority's waste disposal undertaking to a LAWDC. Each transfer scheme must be approved by the Secretary of State. When authorities are directed to form LAWDCs, each authority will be provided with its own individual timetable for the creation of its LAWDC, reflecting that authority's particular circumstances and the Secretary of State's commitment to implementing this policy as soon as possible. Setting the new arrangements for waste disposal in place throughout England and Wales will be achieved through a co-operative effort, drawing on the resources of both central and local government.
The circular also explains that the Act introduces competitive tendering for waste disposal contracts. With effect from 31 May, local authorities must award only new contracts for waste disposal through competitive tender. In framing the terms of any contract, authorities must consider whether to include conditions designed to maximise recycling and to minimise pollution of the environment or harm to human health. Authorities are not required to accept the lowest tender where an alternative offers environmental benefits. At all stages in the process, authorities must take care not to discriminate unduly against particular types of waste disposal contractor. The 170W competitive tendering process will identify the full costs of waste disposal, and will encourage an efficient and environmentally conscious waste disposal service.