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Waste Review

Volume 527: debated on Thursday 12 May 2011

1. What recent representations she has received from local authorities on her Department’s waste review. [Official Report, 23 May 2011, Vol. 528, c. 5-6MC.] (55086)

My ministerial colleagues and I have met a wide range of local authority representatives to discuss our review of waste policy in England. Eighty local authorities, and a range of partnership groups, responded to our call for evidence and many have participated in subsequent discussions with Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs officials, emphasising the diversity of local circumstances.

Can the Secretary of State tell me what DEFRA is doing to help local authorities to crack down on persistent fly-tippers in rural and urban areas?

Responsibility for dealing with fly-tipping is also a matter for the Department for Communities and Local Government, and I am sure that the hon. Lady is aware that, over time, the fines have been increased. The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 makes provision for penalties for fly-tippers, and I want to make it perfectly clear from DEFRA’s perspective that it is a practice that we abhor, and that we seek to catch and prosecute those who perpetrate it.

Given that the South West Devon Waste Partnership has decided that Plymouth is the right place for its energy-from-waste facility, will the Secretary of State please try to persuade Devon county council, in its forthcoming consideration of an application for a commercial waste incinerator in south Devon, that we certainly do not need two incinerators so close to each other in the area? [Interruption.]

Whatever I said has resulted in a very rapid departure by the hon. Member for North Tyneside (Mrs Glindon).

The waste review will look at waste in the round. We recognise the difficulties that incineration can cause locally, which is why we strongly support these decisions being made at local level.

Order. I apologise; this is nothing to do with the Secretary of State. A Member must not leave the Chamber before his or her question has been concluded, whatever other pressures there might be.

Recycling under the last Labour Government increased threefold, but this Government’s continued delays over the waste review have deprived British business of the certainty that it needs if it is to use resources in a smarter way and improve its reuse and recycling of materials. This is damaging for the economy and for the environment. Can the Secretary of State guarantee that the waste review will enable business to make up the ground lost as a result of Government delay? Can she also guarantee that it will provide the right regulatory framework to enable businesses to invest in these areas?

The hon. Gentleman wrongly credits his party with being at the centre of the improvement in recycling rates. The fact is that local authorities have achieved this, and the majority of them are Conservative controlled to boot. Perhaps we can also nail this myth about delay. Our business plan makes it clear that the waste review, which was launched in June last year, will be published in June this year. This is not a question of delay. The hon. Gentleman will have to wait just a short while to see the importance that the Government attach to undertaking a thorough review of waste, which includes picking up some of the mess that the previous Government left behind.