Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I must declare an interest as a Somerset county councillor. The council is, of course, a waste disposal authority.

We are disappointed that the targets set do not mention waste minimisation. They do not give it importance in the hierarchy. The Bill does not acknowledge the role that waste minimisation should play as the targets for waste are set. Further, we are still

3 Nov 2003 : Column 523

disappointed that the targets seem less rigorous than those envisaged by the directive. At a time when some counties are running out of landfill sites, we really cannot afford to do anything other than our utmost in this area.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the Bill that left this House did not do everything that the noble Baroness wished, including in relation to waste minimisation. In that respect, the Bill as it has come back to this House is in more or less the same form. The targets are on the trajectory towards meeting those targets under the directive. Of themselves, they will put great pressure on disposal and collection authorities to ensure that part of the solution is to reduce waste, as well as finding more environmentally friendly ways to dispose of it.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

2Clause 3, page 3, line 16, leave out "(4) and (5)" and insert "(3) and (4)"
3Page 3, line 25, at end insert—
"( ) Subsection (8) may be satisfied by consultation before, as well as by consultation after, the coming into force of this section."

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 2 and 3, to which I spoke on Commons Amendment No. 1.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 2 and 3.—(Lord Whitty.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

4Clause 12, page 9, line 11, leave out ", and evidence as to,"

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 4. In doing so, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 5. The amendments concern information that waste disposal authorities are required to report to the monitoring authority.

In order for the landfill allowances scheme to run effectively and provide accurate figures about the amount of biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill, it is imperative that a rigorous monitoring scheme is set up. We need to be in a position to report our progress to the European Commission, and it is vital that the Commission is convinced that the reporting system is robust.

Since the Bill was introduced, a much more effective mass balance monitoring system has been identified. That system uses returns from waste disposal authorities to identify the amount of municipal waste arising and the proportion that has been sent to landfill. For that to work effectively, it is essential not only to have information on the amount of waste sent to landfill and other waste management facilities, but to be able to require evidence to substantiate such information.

Amendment No. 4 is consequential on Amendment No. 5. Taken together, the amendments clarify the powers in Clause 12(2)(b) with respect to the supply of evidence about certain matters. Amendments Nos. 4 and

3 Nov 2003 : Column 524

5 will enable an allocating authority to require waste disposal authorities to supply the monitoring authority with evidence substantiating information about matters connected with the sending of biodegradable municipal waste to landfill, and entries in any records maintained by the WDAs for the purposes of Clause 12(l). As waste disposal authorities already collect information about the amount of waste sent to landfill and other waste management facilities, the additional burden will be one only of providing supporting evidence of such matters to monitoring authorities.

I believe that the amendments will enable England and the rest of the UK to create a robust and effective monitoring system which will enable us to report our progress confidently to the EU. I commend Commons Amendment No. 4 to the House.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 4.—(Lord Whitty.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

5Clause 12, page 9, line 13, at end insert—
"(ii) evidence to substantiate information supplied for the purpose of complying with requirements imposed under sub-paragraph (i);


    (iii) evidence to substantiate entries in records maintained for the purpose of complying with provision made under subsection (1);"

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 5, to which I spoke on Commons Amendment No. 4.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 5.—(Lord Whitty.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

3.15 p.m.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

6Clause 17, page 11, line 29, leave out subsection (4)

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 6. In doing so, I shall also speak to Amendments Nos. 7, 12 to 19 and 21 to 31. The amendments deal with an issue discussed at some length in this House; namely, the joint working between waste collection and waste disposal authorities in two-tier areas.

I turn first to the issue of joint municipal waste management strategies, to which the Government have given considerable thought. We recognise the strong feeling expressed in both this House and another place that the two-tier structure poses additional challenges in respect of integrated waste management. A two-tier area is defined in Amendment No. 18 as,


    "the area of a waste disposal authority in England which is not also a waste collection authority".

We have also accepted the need to tackle the matter through the introduction of measures encouraging better joint working between the authorities in such areas.

3 Nov 2003 : Column 525

The Government do not believe that the amendment made to the Bill before it left this House, moved by the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, at Third Reading—it required authorities to produce and publish a joint strategy—is the best way to overcome the problem. While we understand what prompted the inclusion of Clause 17(4), which was added by the amendment, it is not sufficiently clear on how the duty would work in practice. Amendment No. 6 therefore removes Clause 17(4).

In place of that amendment, the Government have tabled Amendment No. 16, which introduces a new requirement for all waste authorities within a two-tier area to consult on and prepare a joint strategy for the management of municipal waste within 18 months of the day on which the Act receives Royal Assent. The strategy must be set out in a statement, which must be adequately publicised and kept under review.

Although the Government remain of the view that strategic planning is an integral part of good waste management in all authorities and areas, in framing that duty we took into account the need to ensure that local authorities had sufficient flexibility in planning for the execution of their functions. We have therefore sought to target authorities and areas that need to improve their performance, and not to impose the duty on authorities and areas which are already high performers and working well together to deliver sustainable waste management.

Some of the amendments, and principally Amendment No. 17, allow the Secretary of State to exempt through regulations an authority whose performance he considers satisfactory. First, in accordance with the Government's commitment radically to reduce the number of plans excellent authorities have to submit, we will exempt those authorities which have achieved an excellent score in their comprehensive performance assessment. Secondly, we plan to exempt those authorities whose performance on waste meets or exceeds defined targets. Taking that one step further, Amendment No. 17 also allows the Secretary of State to exempt all authorities in a two-tier area, if conditions specified by the regulations are met. Again, that is to ensure that we do not impose duties on areas where effective joint working is already a reality.

Exemption from the duty will not be open-ended, however. Amendment No. 17 enables regulations to set the duration of any exemption, and postpone the application of a duty under Amendment No. 16 at the end of any exemption. We intend to use those powers in a way that will allow authorities whose exemption ends to have a period to improve their performance before being required to produce a strategy.

Tailoring the application of the duty in that way is consistent with the Government's wider freedoms and flexibilities agenda. We will ensure that, in areas in which the authorities need to work more effectively in planning for the exercise of their functions, there is an obligation to do so. At the same time, we will protect high performers from the imposition of an additional burden.

3 Nov 2003 : Column 526

Amendment No. 19 is another example of our commitment to remove ineffective burdens on local authorities. It repeals the requirement for waste collection authorities in England and Wales to produce and publicise a waste recycling plan in accordance with Section 49 of the Environmental Protection Act. It also deals with the consequential repeals to the Greater London Authority Act and the Local Government Act 2000.

Amendments Nos. 12 to 14 remove certain powers to make regulations and certain references to the duty under Section 49 of the Environmental Protection Act from Clause 29, which concerns municipal waste management strategies for Wales. The repeal of Section 49 of the Environmental Protection Act through Amendment No. 19 negates the need for those powers and references. Amendments Nos. 21 to 31 relate to the commencement and extension of Amendments Nos. 16 to 19.

The third element of the group deals with direction by waste disposal authorities. These provisions complement those on joint municipal waste management strategies and obviate the need for Clause 17(5), which was inserted into the Bill at Third Reading. Amendment No. 6 therefore removes this subsection.

Amendment No. 15, which amends Clause 31 of the Bill, seeks to maximise constructive working in two-tier areas even where a waste disposal authority is considering including in a direction to a waste collection authority requirements about the separation of delivered waste. Amendment No. 15 adds three further subsections, subsections (4B) to (4D), to Section 51 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Together these subsections require a waste disposal authority to consult WCAs in its area before giving a direction about the separation of delivered waste; to have regard to guidance given by the Secretary of State in exercising this power; and to notify any WCA which is given a direction of the reasons for that direction.

In order to ensure that a waste collection authority is not worse off financially as a result of having to comply with a direction, Amendment No. 15 also inserts a new Section 52A into the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This section requires a waste disposal authority to pay to a waste collection authority such amounts as are needed to ensure that the collection authority is not financially worse off as a result of having to comply with a direction by the disposal authority regarding the separation of waste.

New Section 52A includes provision for the Secretary of State to make regulations for determining the amount of these payments. Subsection (4) enables the Secretary of State to include in these regulations provision for amounts to be less than they would otherwise be (or to be nil) if conditions specified in the regulations are not satisfied. The purpose of this is to ensure that the waste disposal authority must make payment only if the collection authority is required by the direction to undertake more onerous separation activity than is necessary to meet its statutory performance standards.

3 Nov 2003 : Column 527

Of course, we hope that waste disposal authorities will not find it necessary to make use of their power of direction. We believe that the best way to deliver real improvements in two-tier areas is through joint and co-operative working. It is to this end, and in response to concerns expressed in this House, that the Government have introduced the duty to prepare joint municipal waste management strategies in such areas.

These amendments offer an appropriate balance between the desire for an integrated approach to waste management and the rights and needs of different authorities at local, regional and national level. I commend them to the House.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 6.—(Lord Whitty.)


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page