Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Letter from Biffa Waste Services Ltd to local authorities who responded to the questionnaire dated 18 April 2001 23 August 2001


  You kindly responded to our recent questionnaire on the subject of fridges. By way of update I am enclosing a copy of my letter to Dr Anna Stacey following a recent meeting facilitated by the DTI involving DEFRA, the Environment Agency and interested parties in the industry. There was no conclusion to this meeting—other than that further discussions will be held in the very near future. It seems highly probable, however, that you will shortly be receiving communication from DEFRA advising that the EC regulations will be applied. There is therefore a high probability that from 1 January 2002 fridges will cease to be handled through existing car fragmentation plants and these are likely to be diverted towards local authority civic amenity sites for disposal. If the regulations are not enforced it is possible that the UK will be subject to infraction proceedings from Europe and it would appear that this would be politically unacceptable—particularly since the fines would exceed the cost of compliance.

  Attached to the letter is an appendix indicating a range of possible pricing options. These are still being considered by Government but in the time available it is more probable that local authorities will be expected to bear some or all of the cost burden. This replicates LA experience with abandoned cars and other products—clearly there is a need for a wider debate on how these costs can be dealt with differently in the long run—otherwise the cost of environmental legislation simply ends up being borne by central government. That apart, however, I wish to reaffirm that when the position is clarified we are keen to move ahead with investment in an appropriate technology to meet this problem. Our letter provides indicative costings only and our understanding is that DEFRA will be writing to you direct in the very near future with recommendations on their agreed approach. Thereafter we would very much appreciate the opportunity of tendering for your requirements—if it is deemed that WDAs/WCAs will be the point of contact. The appropriate lead contact from DEFRA at the 21 August meeting was Chris Megainey and from the Environment Agency, Jeff Cooper.

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