§ Mr. Gray
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) when she issued guidelines on the proximity of landfill sites to housing; and if they are retroactive; 
(2) if she has powers to require the closure or containment of a landfill site which is closer to housing than the guidelines require; what discussions she has had with the European Commission about changes to those guidelines; and if the proposed EU Directive would be retroactive. 
§ Mr. Meacher
The Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) Order 1995 requires a local planning authority to consult the Environment Agency before granting planning permission for development within 250 metres of land which is or has, at any time in the 30 years before the relevant planning application, been used for the deposit of refuse or waste. Guidance to the Agency in Waste Management Paper 27 on Landfill Gas published in 1991 contains guidelines on the proximity of new housing developments to landfill sites. These guidelines do not arise from European legislation and we have had no discussions with the European Commission about changes to the guidance.276W
In addition, under section 42 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the Environment Agency must take the steps needed to ensure that:
- 1.the activities authorised by a waste management licence do not cause environmental pollution, harm to human health or serious detriment to local amenities; and
- 2. the conditions of a licence are complied with.
Following implementation of the Landfill Directive, the Environment Agency will be required to exercise its functions under the Directive in order to prevent, or reduce as far as possible, negative effects from the landfilling of waste on the environment and any resulting risk to human health during the whole life cycle of the site. The Directive also requires local planning authorities to take into consideration the distance from the site boundary when considering the location of a new landfill site. This requirement has applied to all new landfill sites from 16 July 2001 but is not applied retrospectively to existing landfill sites.
The Environment Agency can suspend, vary or revoke a waste management licence or, in future, the permit issued under the terms of the Landfill Directive, where it appears the continuation of activities would cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health or where the conditions of the permit or licence are breached.