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Lord Livsey of Talgarth: I take on board much of what the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, said. It is important that non-hazardous waste is allowed to be put on the side of waterways. Very often, it prevents flooding and contains the waterway. But the maintenance of small waterways can also be extremely important in ensuring that productive land is adequately drained for growing crops and perhaps also for carrying intensive livestock. I can think of situations in, for example, Somerset where that is particularly important.
Often the cleaning out of waterways is done single-handedly by one person working alone with, for example, a JCB. He does not have the support of several other tractors and the means to take the stuff away. It is simply a practical problem and I wonder what the Environment Agency has to say about it. Is the Environment Agency concerned about whether this has been a problem in various parts of the country and has it asked the Minister's department to ensure that this provision is included?
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: It was. Therefore, what the noble Lord really wants to know is whether the Environment Agency agrees with the importance of being able to place non-hazardous waste on the banks of "small waterways", which would become simply "waterways" if the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, were carried. I now understand.
First, perhaps I may put on one side the issue of agricultural waste. The reason that it is not excluded is that it is not municipal waste in the first place. I hope that that is reassuring. I am conscious that, had the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, still been here, he might not have liked the way that I shall handle this point.
This group consists of technical amendments to definitions in the Bill. However, the definitions in the Billfor example, of "biodegradable", "municipal waste", "landfill" and "treatment infill"reflect the definitions in the Landfill Directive. The aim of the Bill is to give legal effect to the obligations imposed on the UK by Articles 5.1 and 5.2 of the Landfill Directive. It is important that we cover everything within the scope of the directive.
Amendments Nos. 125 and 140, in particular, are narrower than the definitions in the directive. In such cases, moving away from the definitions in the directive always bears a risk. The interpretation of any definition is, in the final analysis, for the courts to determine. It would be highly undesirable if, in addition to any domestic debate on the interpretation, there were also a challenge from the European Court
Amendment No. 128 defines inert municipal waste as waste that is not biodegradable within 25 years. This amendment is only necessary for Amendments Nos. 75, 103, 91 and 117, which relate to landfill strategies in each country of the UK and which we have already considered. The definition is very different from the definition of inert waste in the Landfill Directive and therefore we are unable to accept that amendment.
Finally, Amendment No. 127 proposes definitions of end-of-life vehicles and waste electrical and electronic equipment required for those amendments we have already considered in group one. As they are consequent on other amendments that we could not accept, for the reason given, I regret that we cannot accept these too.
I am conscious that that is slightly complicated and noble Lords will want to read it. The basic theme point is that it is important to use and mirror the terminology used in the directive in order to protect us against challenge in the future. With those explanations I hope noble Lords are happy to withdraw the amendment.
Lord Livsey of Talgarth: I entirely understand what the Minister is saying about the European directive. That is entirely logical and one would not wish to challenge it. I am concerned about the business of small waterways, which I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, is about to mention. It would appear that DEFRA consulted the Environment Agency but we do not know what the Environment Agency said and whether it wants to ban this. It will cause a lot of hardship in some family situations if this is the case and it will be interesting if that information comes out.
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I am hoping that information will come out. We consulted on "small" in the context of landfill regulations and it may be helpful if we write on the issue of what constitutes small. I am trying to think of another way of saying this because it is possible it may come to me whether I am going to be in a position to say what the Environment Agency said when we consulted it.
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I have reached the conclusion that, given that we have to decide which size water courses we are dealing with and who said what to who where, it is possible that in the end I may resort to writing about whether the Environment Agency accepted the importance of dredging and placing on the bank on a small waterway. The answer is yes. It came to me in a flash.
Lord Dixon-Smith: The Minister has been very helpful in her reply and explained why these particular terms are in the Bill and how they were arrived at. I am grateful to her for that and we will go away and study her answer with some care. Maybe we will need to refer to it again and maybe not. However, one point that she did not pick up is that I cannot believe that anyone translating from a French original to English came up with "from out of which". I cannot think of a single translator who would do that.
The noble Lord said: This amendment is about the derogation that this country has obtained, which allows it to implement the various stages of this Bill four years after better geared up countries. Our view is that this derogation is not necessary. It is a matter of whether the commitmentthe ambitionis present in this country to do things. It is a matter of commitment and a matter of resources. If we were in government, we would not use this derogation. We would get on with it and do it all four years earlier. There is not really much more to say than that. I beg to move.
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: These amendments would change the target years and adjust the length of the landfill allowance scheme to bring it into line with the underogated targets in Article 5.2 of the Landfill Directive. These targets are already very difficult to achieve and we have made allowance for
Lord Greaves: I feel able to withdraw the amendment but not on the basis of the unsatisfactory explanation that has been given. We will disagree on this and for the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Lord said: The amendment was tabled because we have problems with what you might call the schedule of these dates. I know exactly what the Minister is going to say in response, but the fact is that the date schedule in the European directive has given rise to this Bill. All the negotiators from every country in Europe must have been asleep to agree these. We have from 1995 to 2010 to make a 25 per cent reduction in the amount of waste going to landfill. We then have another three years to get rid of the next 25 per cent and then another eight years to get rid of the third 25 per cent. That is weird scheduling by any calculation. I can see no rationale for it at all. I cannot understand how sensibleor otherwise sensible, perhapsnegotiators can have come to this conclusion. The amendment was aimed at making that rather funny position slightly more logical, but I am bound to say that the flaw is in the directive. I know that the Minister will tell us that the directive is what we must live with but none the less I beg to move.
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