Examination of Witnesses (Questions 214
MONDAY 1 JULY 2002
214. Can I bid you all welcome, and particularly
our witnesses from the Local Government Association. I think it
would be helpful if, for the record, gentlemen, you would be kind
enough to identify yourselves, where you come from, and perhaps
just one sentence about your particular responsibilities, to put
you into context. Mr Fielding, would you like to start?
(Mr Fielding) Certainly. I am Ian Fielding, Waste
Services Manager for Hampshire County Council, and I am a Waste
Adviser to the LGA.
(Mr Didsbury) I am Stephen Didsbury, Waste Recycling
Manager for Bexley Council. I am also a Waste Adviser for the
215. You obviously have practical expertise
in the field. Let us just start with what is becoming for us on
this Committee an interesting but complex area of inquiry, as
new legislation begins to be introduced originating through the
European Union. We have had evidence from both the Cleanaway organisation
and the Environment Agency that to try to pull together the many
strands of the whole question of dealing with hazardous waste
would require what they described as "a strategic plan for
hazardous waste management". Do you think, from your practical
experience, that such a plan is needed?
(Mr Fielding) I think that yes is the short answer,
although we probably have some views on how that plan should be
developed and administered. From the LGA perspective, we would
like to see the role of the regional planning bodies as a critical
one in that process, as advised by the regional technical advisory
bodies, and therefore some form of strategic representation from
local authorities and practitioners such as Cleanaway. In principle,
yes, I think we would support a strategic hazardous waste plan.
216. Mr Didsbury, did you wish to add anything?
(Mr Didsbury) Yes. We see it as two levels. We see
it as the Environment Agency perhaps being the national institution
at the head of it, looking at the bigger problems, and we can
see that there is a small percentage of hazardous waste which
has to be dealt with obviously on a national basis, and then regional
implementation plans for that in terms of looking at what resources
are needed in each region to ensure that waste never travels too
217. Let me ask you this, Mr Fielding. One of
the things the Committee gained some insight into last week when
it visited Cheshire and the outskirts and in fact the "inskirts",
the centre, of Liverpool, was that we saw four different aspects
of the waste disposal industry effectively, all provided by private
sector providers. Here you are representing a county council.
What does the lack of a plan mean for you, with your county council
(Mr Fielding) I think that particularly the local
authorities' perspective and mine as a representative of a county
council is in relation to management of household hazardous waste.
Referring back to the plan, I think it is important to put into
context the issues local authorities face in management of hazardous
household waste, and particularly the difficulties we are facing
in understanding perhaps the distinction between whether waste
should be treated as household waste or whether it should be treated
as hazardous waste.
218. What are the barriers to getting the answer
to that important question at the moment?
(Mr Fielding) There are some very strong definition
issues. The current Special Waste Regulations have a blanket exemption
for household waste, with one or two notable exceptions from that,
particularly with regard to asbestos, for instance. One of the
things that we remain unclear about in respect of the new legislation
is quite whether that blanket exemption will continue in the same
way as it has applied in the past, or whether we will see particularly
elements of the waste stream falling outside of that exemption
and therefore having to be treated separately to household waste.
219. Whose job is it to sort this out, in your
(Mr Fielding) We need some guidance from the regulators.
The Environment Agency presumably will provide that guidance under
advice from the Government.