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Hazardous Waste

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): There are no government plans to reduce the number of sites that can receive hazardous waste. From July 2002, the Landfill Directive required operators to specify whether their sites will be inert, non-hazardous or hazardous waste landfills. In July 2004, when co-disposal of waste ends, those landfill sites classified as hazardous in 2002 can alter their classification to non-hazardous. Following this reclassification exercise, and working from the current information supplied by the waste management industry, we believe that a relatively small number of sites will continue as hazardous waste landfills. However, also from July 2004, the Landfill Directive permits stable non-reactive hazardous waste to be disposed of in a separate cell in non-hazardous landfills.

Analysis conducted by the Hazardous Waste Forum shows that there is likely to be sufficient capacity in non-hazardous and hazardous waste landfill to deal with hazardous waste arisings. It is estimated that approximately 3 million tonnes of hazardous waste will require landfilling each year.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: It is difficult to predict expected imports for the next six years. However, the total hazardous waste imported to the United Kingdom for the years 1996 to 2001 ranged from approximately 90,000 to 182,000 tonnes per annum.

Shipbreaking

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Whitty: No. In most cases, the majority of the waste arising from ships will comprise steel, which can be recovered or recycled together with relatively small quantities of wastes for disposal. Overall though the import of the waste ship may be classed as waste moving for recovery. The return of waste as part of the transfrontier movement is not normally envisaged. The United Kingdom has a policy of not exporting waste for disposal.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there was any official or unofficial written or verbal discussion between the United Kingdom and United States Governments prior to November 2003 on the issues of the "ghost fleet" disposal.[HL5451]

Lord Whitty: There has been a regular dialogue between the UK authorities including the Environment Agency and those in the US both before and during November 2003.

Watercourse Dredgings

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy on the use and classification of material that is dredged from watercourses to maintain channel capacity; and[HL5555]

    What is the status of material that is dredged from watercourses; and whether it can have more than one status; and[HL5556]

    Whether they propose to change their policy concerning material that is dredged from watercourses; if so, whether any such change has been costed; and whether it represents the most sustainable option.[HL5557]

Lord Whitty: The regulatory and technical provisions of the 1999 EU Landfill Directive, including those on the treatment and disposal of liquid dredgings, were implemented in England and Wales by the Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002. The ban on landfilling of non-hazardous liquid wastes is unlikely to come fully into force before 2006. My department is currently working with the Environment Agency and others to deliver a policy that meets the needs of all parties, bearing in mind that the UK must comply with EU law.

The Government are committed to reducing the UK's reliance on landfill, which makes little practical use of waste and is a missed opportunity to recover value from waste. The Government believe that landfilling of waste sites at the bottom of the waste hierarchy and in their waste strategy have set out a range of policies to promote the reduction, re-use, recycling and recovery of waste in order to divert it from landfill.

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Wetlands

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Article 2 of the draft Water Framework Directive does not include a definition of wetlands because the wetlands associated with a river are included within the definition of a river; or whether a river is that area of water that is normally between two banks; and[HL5558]

    If wetlands are not included within the definition of a river in the draft Water Framework Directive regulations for England and Wales, what status they have.[HL5559]

Lord Whitty: The Water Framework Directive defines a river as a "body of inland water flowing for the most part on the surface of the land but which may flow underground for part of its course." The draft England and Wales regulations contain the same definition. The directive does not set environmental objectives for wetlands as such, and this may be why there is no separate definition of this term.

A wetland that is dependent on a groundwater body, that forms part of a surface water body, or that is a protected area, will however benefit from directive obligations to protect and restore the status of water. The draft regulations for England and Wales will provide the framework within which those obligations will be met.

Waste: Pulverised Fuel Ash and Blast Furnace Slag

Lord Dixon-Smith asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the reclassification of pulverised fuel ash as waste requiring a licence by the Environment Agency will reduce the total of recycled products in the waste processing statistics by 3.5 million tonnes; and[HL5435]

    Whether blast furnace slag is to be classified as waste requiring a licence instead of being directly recyclable as in the past; and[HL5437]

    What impact the reclassification of pulverised fuel ash as waste requiring a licence will have on the total waste going to landfill; and[HL5438]

    Whether the reclassification of pulverised fuel ash as waste requiring a licence is consistent with their policy for recycling.[HL5439]

Lord Whitty: The definition of waste in force in the United Kingdom is the definition in Article 1(a) of the Waste Framework Directive (as amended). It provides that waste means, " . . . any substance or object . . . which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard." Whether or not a substance, such as power station ash or blast furnace slag, is discarded as waste is a matter which must be determined on the facts of the case and the interpretation of the law is a matter for the courts. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has

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issued several judgments on the interpretation of the definition of waste and the meaning of "discard". ECJ judgments are binding on member states and their "competent authorities".

The Government have not classified either pulverised fuel ash or blast furnace slag as waste. It rests in the first place with the producer of a substance to decide whether it is being discarded as waste. The Environment Agency is designated as a competent authority for the purposes of the directive and is responsible for the application of its controls to substances discarded as waste.

The Government propose, in consultation with the Environment Agency, to review in the light of the ECJ's judgments the guidance on the interpretation of the definition of waste originally provided in DOE Circular 11/94. But it is not feasible for any revised guidance which the Government issue to determine whether any particular substance is in any particular circumstances discarded as waste. It will be feasible only for any revised guidance to advise on the factors which the ECJ has determined should be taken into account in reaching a decision.

Power station ash—including pulverised fuel ash—and blast furnace slags are two of the waste streams discussed in the Government's Waste Strategy 2000 (paragraphs 8.139–8.149) (Cm 4693–2). As the strategy makes clear, delivering sustainable development means not only putting waste to good use through recycling but also choosing products made from recycled waste. This is why the Government set up the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP)—to promote recycling and to create stable and efficient markets for products made from recycled waste. In this context, it is necessary to have regard to the fact that it is only substances which are discarded as waste which are capable of being "recycled" within the meaning of the Waste Framework Directive and related legislation.

The Government continue to encourage the recovery of waste by means of recycling, re-use and reclamation. This encouragement includes the use of the Government's discretion under Article 11 of the Waste Framework Directive to provide exemptions from waste management licensing. Licensing exemptions for the recycling of ash discarded as waste are provided in paragraphs 9, 13 and 19 of Schedule 3 to the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994.


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