HC Deb 18 March 1997 vol 292 cc522-3W
Mrs. Helen Jackson

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what advice he has issued on the environmental implications arising from the disposal by(a) landfill and (b) incineration of cattle slaughtered in connection with the BSE crisis; [20828]

(2) what advice has been requested in the last year from (a) his Department and (b) the Environment Agency on the best practical environmental option of disposing of the backlog of cattle slaughtered under the over-30-months scheme. [20829]

Mr. Clappison

Cattle suspected of displaying signs of BSE are slaughtered and their carcases sent for direct incineration in plants contracted to MAFF, which are subject to authorisation by the Environment Agency or relevant local authority under part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Agriculture made it clear in the House on 16 April 1996 that cattle wastes from the over-30-months scheme would be treated primarily by rendering, with the resultant material being disposed of by the best practicable environmental option. The disposal of wastes from the scheme is subject to Commission Regulation (EC) 716/96. The regulation requires that the wastes be directly incinerated, or processed at a rendering plant and then destroyed. The regulation does not permit landfill. Rendered material—meat and bonemeal and tallow—is either being incinerated or stored safely pending destruction by the best practicable environmental option—for example, incineration, burning for energy recovery by power stations.

The Government have sought advice from the independent Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee on methods of dealing with cattle wastes. SEAC's conclusions were published on 7 June 1996 in a news release issued by MAFF. A copy is available in the Library of the House. SEAC's advice has been made available to relevant enforcement bodies.