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Waste Disposal

Volume 205: debated on Friday 6 March 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what timetable he intends for the divestment by the statutory joint waste disposal authorities of their waste disposal operations; whether he plans to abolish these authorities; and if he will make a statement.

The statutory joint waste disposal authorities will shortly be sent notices of our intention to direct them to establish separate waste disposal companies or, where they are intending to privatise their waste disposal operations, a proposed timetable for this. All waste disposal authorities will then actively be involved in separating their operations from regulation and contract management. The timetable for each statutory authority will depend on individual circumstances, on which authorities will have an opportunity to make representations, but I expect that divestment will essentially be complete by April 1993. This separation is a major advance, introduced in the Environmental Protection Act 1990, in support of higher waste disposal standards.The changes brought by the Environmental Protection Act and the proposed creation of an environment agency, will remove most of these authorities' current responsibilities. I have therefore decided that there is no role, in the medium and long term, for separate statutory joint waste disposal authorities.This decision has been reached after consulting each of the six authorities and carefully considering the cases which they have made for their retention.I have however been impressed by the concern expressed by each of the authorities that existing beneficial contracts should not be put at risk through abolition. Some authorities have also expressed doubts on whether our current powers for effecting changes to the authorities are satisfactory. Against this background, I shall be seeking an early opportunity for primary legislation to ensure that this reorganisation is achieved in a smooth and effective manner.The closer association of waste disposal decisions with those who must meet the costs will, I am sure, lead to more efficient and more responsive waste disposal services for the community.