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Waste Disposal

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 29 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps his Department has taken to counteract pollution caused by unauthorised chemical waste dumping; what recent assessment he has made of the extent of such dumping; and if he will make a statement. (129846)

There are strict controls on the management and disposal of all wastes, including waste chemicals, and producers of waste have a duty to ensure that it is lawfully managed. Section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 makes it an offence to illegally dispose of waste and carries a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine, or five years imprisonment, or both. The Government have been developing and implementing its waste crime strategy for a number of years now. We will continue to do so as I believe that all forms of illegal waste disposal need to be prevented as far as possible. Where they do happen, incidents and offenders must be dealt with promptly and efficiently by the enforcing authorities.

The Environment Agency (EA) has the leading role in the enforcement of waste regulation and works with local authorities to tackle the fly-tipping of waste. Over the last five years, the EA has been called out to 134 incidents involving organic and inorganic wastes which would include ‘chemical wastes’. In 2006, there was a small drop in the number of incidents compared to previous years. At incidents, the EA take action to ensure that wastes are cleared up to prevent harm to human health and the environment.

Flycapture, the national fly-tipping database, was set up in 2004 by Defra, the EA and the Local Government Association to record the number of fly-tipping incidents dealt with by the EA and local authorities. There are 15 categories of waste that are recorded on the database but none of these specifically record chemical wastes. However, one category records chemical drums, oil and fuel and, in 2005-06, there were 4,927 incidences recorded.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what discussions he has had with relevant EU directorates concerning the adoption of the composting protocol by the Environment Agency; (129941)

(2) what discussions he has had with the Environment Agency concerning compliance with the Waste Framework Directive (Amendment) 2006 of the agency's waste protocols programme.

The European Commission has been kept informed of the work undertaken by the Environment Agency (EA) and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to develop an end of waste protocol for compost.

Officials from DEFRA and the EA attended a recent seminar by the Commission's Joint Research Centre in Seville to discuss Commission-funded research into a methodology for developing end of waste criteria at EU level.

The EA is a member of the DEFRA project board which is steering the UK input to the negotiations on the proposed revisions to the Waste Framework Directive, under which the Commission has proposed a mechanism to set end of waste criteria for the EU. These negotiations are still in progress. The EA's experience in developing end of waste criteria for compost and other materials should help provide valuable input to future EU discussions.