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Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I welcome the Minister's words on Amendment 450PB. I am glad that we have achieved that. I do not agree with him that industrial sites should not be specified. They can be a major source of pollution. Although I understand that the Government wish the mayor to have plenty of discretion, if he is responsible for air quality, it is wise to specify in the Bill those areas on which he should concentrate. However, at this stage, I hear what the Minister says and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Whitty moved Amendments No. 450YA:


Page 150, line 3, at end insert-- ("( ) biodiversity,")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood moved Amendment No. 450A:


Page 150, line 4, after ("recycling") insert (", transportation")

The noble Baroness said: This amendment would provide that the state of the environment report should include information about the transportation of waste. Amendment No. 450A provides that the mayor's waste strategy also contains proposals for the transportation of waste.

At an earlier stage in the proceedings in Committee, we raised our concerns that the transportation of waste was not considered in connection with waste strategy and the mayor's strategy in general. It is our contention that the transportation of waste is an essential part of a waste strategy, particularly in so far as that strategy relates to disposal sites.

Clause 285 states that disposal, and for that matter collection, authorities shall have regard to the mayor's strategy. So if the mayor were to adopt a strategy or suggest strategies as to how waste might be moved--and we must remember that some of London's waste is moved a very long distance to its final disposal site--that could have quite an effect in terms of times of day, days of the week, routes, the mode of transport, cleanliness, the pollution status of the vehicles employed, and so on. We think it could be a very useful spur to the waste disposal authorities in exacting from their contractors a sensible and non-polluting attitude to the disposal of waste. I beg to move.

9.45 p.m.

Lord Whitty: We certainly accept that the transportation of municipal waste is a very important issue. In a sense, because it is such a central issue we have not specified it here. The Bill already allows the mayor to include in both the environment report and the municipal waste management strategy those issues that are important, including the transportation of municipal waste. In preparing or revising the waste management

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strategy, the mayor shall have regard to any guidance issued to him by the Secretary of State for the purposes of implementing the strategy and relating to the content of that strategy.

All guidance from my department will indicate that, when choosing the waste management option to be followed for a particular part of the waste stream, all authorities must be in a position to adopt the principle of best practicable environmental option, which was defined by the Royal Commission as a procedure which establishes for a given set of objectives the option which provides the most benefit, or least damage, to the environment as a whole as an exceptional cost in the long term as well as in the short term. In order to identify this, authorities have to take into account the environmental impact of the transportation of municipal waste. In addition, it is almost certain that any guidance issued by the Secretary of State would suggest that authorities and the mayor should minimise the transportation of municipal waste and make full use of the forms of transport which do least damage to the environment.

We recognise that this is part of the whole process and that it is likely that the mayor will want to include it. However, we have to allow the mayor some discretion. I hope that, with the reassurances I have given and given the importance that my department attaches to this, the noble Baroness will not press this amendment.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: I am bound to say that the Minister's reply had a strong flavour of "not invented here" about it. He tells us that it is very important and, indeed, that it is so important that it does not need to be mentioned on the face of the Bill. Is he telling us that waste disposal is less important than waste transportation? Waste disposal, which is equally covered by guidance--stacks of guidance--is on the face of the Bill whereas, because waste transportation is so central and is covered by guidance, it does not have to be on the face of the Bill. I think we need a little more logic in the selection of items which do and do not have to be on the face of the Bill. However, for the present time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 450IB not moved.]

[Amendment No. 45OJB had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer moved Amendment No. 450KB:


Page 150, line 7, at end insert-- ("( ) housing conditions,
( ) communicable diseases,
( ) occupational health and safety,
( ) food safety, and
( ) the effects of the environment on human health")

The noble Baroness said: I rise to move this amendment which stands in the name of my noble friend. At the same time, I should like to speak to Amendment No. 450MB. Amendment No. 450KB seeks to add to the state of the environment report a number of very important matters in terms of the health of

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people living in the city. I refer to housing conditions, communicable diseases, occupational health and safety, food safety and the effects of the environment on human health.

It is not just we on these Benches who think that these are particularly important issues to tie in: they were in fact suggested by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. Health and the environment are obviously very closely linked and a healthy environment makes for healthy people. At the same time, what is happening in the areas I have just mentioned would be a very good measure of the sort of success at which the mayor needs to aim. The state of the environment report needs to consider such matters when reporting on the direct impact on people.

Amendment No. 450MB seeks to add to the list of matters that the state of the environment report shall contain something much more precise than the matters that the Government have currently included. The Government simply refer to water quality and pollution. Our amendment seeks to provide a measure of the health of rivers, waterways and canals by linking pollution with biodiversity. One of the aims is to have healthier rivers and watercourses that support the kind of life that they should support if they are not polluted.

The experience of water authorities is that the impact of storm sewage in urban run off on water courses has caused enormous problems, as have domestic waste systems that are incorrectly connected to surface water sewers and which pollute small rivers. Not only do these matters make watercourses unhealthy and unpleasant, but the oxygen levels in them are unable to support fish life which, for example, the Environment Agency has worked so hard to bring back. We believe that this amendment adds something to the aims of the Bill which is now lacking in the Government's more superficial view of the part played by watercourses. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: These amendments seek to require the mayor to include sections in the state of the environment report on housing conditions, communicable diseases, occupational health and safety, food safety and pollution of rivers and canals, all of which areas the mayor is not directly responsible for. If the mayor decides that all of these areas need detailed coverage in the report, that is a matter for him, but to impose a requirement seems to us to be over-prescriptive and is an unnecessary burden on the mayor, should he decide that other priorities ought to be pursued.

As far as concerns Amendment No. 450MB, which deals with pollution and biodiversity of waterways, we believe that its purpose is already adequately covered by the mayor's obligation to publish the biodiversity action plan under Clause 282. In that plan the mayor is required to have regard to ecology, wildlife and proposals for the conservation and promotion of biodiversity within Greater London. We have recently tabled a further amendment which includes biodiversity in the list of subjects to be covered by the state of the environment report. Therefore, the objectives of this

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amendment are already met in the Bill in the amendment recently accepted. I therefore ask the noble Baroness not to pursue the amendment.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: While to an extent I agree with the Minister's remarks on Amendment No. 450MB, I cannot agree with his observations on Amendment No. 450KB. If, heaven forfend--I am sure that it will not happen--we have a somewhat lazy mayor, at the rate that we are going this evening he or she will be able to ignore, for example, the air quality on industrial sites and all the other matters that both I and the Minister have listed. After all, those matters have been suggested to us by a professional body as providing an exact measure of the state of human health in relation to the environment. I do not agree that this matter should be left entirely to the discretion of the mayor. However, for the moment I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 450LB had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

[Amendments Nos. 450MB to 450QB not moved.]


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