Skip to main content

Stubble Burning

Volume 12: debated on Thursday 12 November 1981

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

18.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether, in view of the smoke hazard to motorway transport, he will consider introducing legislation to make it illegal to burn stubble in fields after harvesting.

Can my hon. Friend assure us that she will have words with the Department of Transport with a view to introducing fog lights when stubble is burnt, to minimise serious accidents?

That is an interesting suggestion, but it is already an offence under highways Acts to light a fire within 50 ft of the centre line of a highway so as to cause damage to it or a user. Furthermore, local authorities can and do introduce byelaws with financial penalties.

Is the hon. Lady aware that in the vicinity of my constituency accidents involving damage and injury have been caused by smoke from burning stubble drifting across motorways, and that it is not good enough to continue to make excuses? Will she reconsider this matter and inquire into the claims made for stubble burning as against ploughing-in?

Cultivating straw into the soil has many disadvantages, but I recognise the concern about stubble burning. Each year my Department publicises the code of practice, which has generally proved successful. Nevertheless, MAFF officials are discussing with the NFU the scope for tightening the code.

I hope that I made it clear that there may well be scope to improve the code.