§ Dr. Godman
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) which countries export clinical and medical waste to England and Wales for high temperature incineration; and if he will make a statement. 
(2) what recent discussions have taken place with the Irish Department of Health concerning the export of medical and clinical waste to England and Wales; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) what plans he has to modify the regulations governing the importation of medical and clinical waste; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) if he will list the names and locations of those companies in England and Wales which are licensed to import medical and clinical waste for high temperature incineration; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Clappison
The Government's policies on exports and imports of waste from and to the United Kingdom are contained in the United Kingdom management plan for exports and imports of waste which was published on 16 May 1996. The plan has legal effect, and came into force on 1 June 1996.
The Government's policy proposals for waste exports and imports were initially outlined in a statement by the then Minister for the Environment and Countryside, my right hon. Friend the Member for South Ribble (Mr. Atkins) on 15 June 1994. The Department consulted on its proposals, in the form of a draft plan, during February and March 1995; the European Commission and other EC member states, including the Republic of Ireland, were also consulted at this time.
Under the plan, imports of waste for disposal are generally banned, in line with the principle of self-sufficiency in the disposal of waste. However, exceptions to this policy occur in cases of emergency, or where the exporting country does not have, and cannot reasonably acquire, suitable disposal facilities of its own.
Representations were received from the Irish Government, to the effect that they produce certain hazardous wastes in sufficiently small quantities overall per year that the provision of new specialised disposal facilities in Ireland would be uneconomic. As a result of these representations, the Government decided to exclude the Republic of Ireland from the phase-out of imports of waste from other EC member states for high temperature incineration at facilities capable of operating at temperatures in excess of 1100 deg C. Thus, Irish waste destined for high temperature incineration, including some categories of clinical waste, will continue to be allowed access to UK facilities. Imports from the Irish Republic of clinical or other waste destined for low temperature incineration, however, are not permitted under the plan.
In 1994–95, the latest year for which figures are available, the following European countries exported hazardous wastes to the United Kingdom for high 215W temperature incineration: Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Wastes were also imported for high temperature incineration from Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Mozambique, Norway, Thailand, Turkey and Venezuela. Data are not available on the origin of these wastes by economic sector-clinical, medical, industrial, and so on.
There are four sites in England and Wales which are licensed as high temperature incinerators as defined in the plan; these are listed:
- Rechem International Ltd.: Pontypool
- Rechem International Ltd.: Southampton
- Cleanaway Ltd.: Ellesmere Port
- Leigh Environmental Ltd. Killamarsh.
We have no plans at present to modify the regulations governing the importation of medical and clinical waste into the United Kingdom. However, the question of clinical waste imports has recently been raised informally with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health by the Irish Minister for Health. As a result, we understand that the Irish Government are considering making a formal request for a temporary dispensation to continue imports of clinical waste for low temperature incineration. We will consider any such request on its merits.