HC Deb 08 July 2002 vol 388 cc691-2W
Malcolm Bruce

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action(a) has recently been taken and (b) is planned by her Department to tackle problems from (i) litter, (ii) flytipping, (iii) abandoned vehicles and (iv) other waste disposed by illegal means; and if she will make a statement. [647311

Mr. Meacher

Last year I launched three litter initiatives: the £1 million Pathfinder Programme, which calls upon local authorities to come up with innovative ways of tackling litter; the development of a voluntary code of best environmental practice for the fast food industry; and a review of the litter legislation to see what is, and what is not working. The results of Pathfinder will be available this time next year; the fast food code of practice is currently being drafted; and the litter legislative review has been subsumed into the Government's public space cross-cutting review, which will report this autumn.

The responsibility for enforcing the legislation on fly tipping rests with the Environment Agency and local authorities. The Department fully supports the work and actions taken by these bodies in order to tackle the problem, including prosecutions where appropriate. The Department is currently looking at the legislative framework on fly tipping to see if any changes can be made to help local authorities and the Environment Agency in their role. The Environment Agency are also working to establish an environmental crime unit that will bear down on problems such as fly tipping through, among other things, improved intelligence and surveillance systems.

In October 2001 we published a joint consultation document with DTLR on measures to remove abandoned and untaxed vehicles from the streets more quickly and, for the longer term, bring forward changes to vehicle registration and licensing procedures to ensure greater accuracy of DVLA's vehicle record. Regulations to reduce the statutory notice periods after which local authorities can remove abandoned vehicles were laid before the House on 19 March and came into force on 9 April.

The Environment Agency has strong existing powers available to take action against illegally deposited waste.