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Domestic Wastes: Waste Disposal

Volume 475: debated on Friday 16 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department has undertaken research into the potential risk of lung damage and other allergic reactions from household waste storage and collection practices amongst (a) immuno-compromised patients and (b) people with fungi allergies. (204485)

DEFRA published in 2007 a report by independent consultants that assessed the health impact of fortnightly residual collections of biodegradable waste. Part of the work assessed available evidence on health risks to members of the public from air-borne micro-organisms and air-borne biological material from household waste. They concluded that there is no evidence which indicates that fortnightly residual waste collection will result in an increase of these substances to levels in air which could pose any risks for members of the public. The research literature provides no evidence that fortnightly residual household waste collection will cause any significant health impacts for residents, or that any health impacts are likely to be significantly greater than those associated with weekly collections.

This is consistent with wider studies of the health effects of waste management, which indicate that waste management has at most a minor effect on health.

The research did not specifically assess risks to susceptible groups of people.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what powers waste collection authorities have to enter (a) the curtilage of a property and (b) a property; under what circumstances such powers may be exercised; what powers such authorities have to inspect the contents of such domestic rubbish receptacles; and what penalty may be imposed upon householders who refuse entry to waste collection authority representatives by the authority. (204534)

The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 extended the powers of section 108 of the Environment Act 1995 to waste collection authorities in relation to their functions under Part II of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA).

Subject to at least seven days notice expiring, and either the consent of the occupant or a warrant under schedule 18 of the Environment Act, persons authorised by the Environment Agency or the enforcing authority (which could be a local authority waste officer) are entitled to enter property to examine and investigate possible waste offences.

This would most likely be where a nuisance was being caused to the neighbourhood, for example by not placing waste in any receptacle and allowing it to be spread beyond the curtilage of the property.

This is not a power designed to enable the inspection of household waste receptacles. Local authority powers under section 46 of the EPA cover how waste is presented for collection, not how waste is stored by householders. If a householder had breached a section 46 notice it would be clear to the authority when it collected the waste, so there would be no need to enter the property to gather such evidence.