Environment Agency: Enforcement Action

Part of Delegated Legislation – in the House of Commons at 8:09 pm on 14th May 2018.

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Photo of Sharon Hodgson Sharon Hodgson Shadow Minister (Public Health) 8:09 pm, 14th May 2018

I certainly agree with the hon. Gentleman. I am pleased with his intervention, and I will come on to fines later, as that is the crux of what I am proposing.

To help the Minister understand fully the scale of the problems that my constituents have faced, I want to read a few excerpts from some emails I have received over the years. I assure him that he will find them both troubling and enlightening about the situation that has been ongoing for some time. First, in 2016 I received an email in which a constituent described the following situation:

“Last week when it was exceptionally warm, I left the windows open in the dining room and sitting room to allow some air circulation for my dog, the scene I returned to was unbelievable. Every single room in my house was inundated with flies. To say that there were upwards of 50 flies in my house would be a conservative estimate, and yes, you read that correctly, I said upwards of 50.”

This constituent went on to say:

“I have lived in Teal Farm Village for three summers now and for three summers this pantomime has repeated itself”.

In a follow-up email, after issues were raised with local agencies, the exasperated constituent wrote:

“Nothing is done to prevent a recurrence, nothing is done to compensate those of us who cannot eat, sit, play or venture into our gardens or onto our balconies or even dare to leave windows open when we are in or out of the house. How about those of us who are woken during the night by smells that have to be experienced to be believed.”

Not just flies and other vermin but the activity of businesses operating in the industrial park are blighting the lives of my constituents. In an email I had passed to me from March of last year, a constituent documented that he witnessed

“several vehicles over the last week, some from Niramax and two others from their contractors, leaving Monument Park and travelling along Pattinson Road to the A1231—then travelling down the slip road towards the A19. All of the lorries were netted but litter was streaming out of the covered areas onto the road behind them.

Pattinson Road is again awash with litter as is the A1231 slip road from the roundabout—this slip road has not been litter picked since the middle of last year at which time it had not been done for over a year.”

This constituent then went on to say:

“The trees alongside the road have plastic streaming out in the wind dropped from lorries, and the verges are an absolute disgrace. It is no wonder fly tipping is on the increase as litter attracts litter”.

Another very alarming and worrying situation that occurred in October of last year, which was raised with me by Councillor Tony Taylor, involved a badly loaded HGV and an incident when a washing machine fell off the back of a van while it was whizzing down the A1231. The Environment Agency said that it was not going to investigate any further as insufficient evidence had been brought to its attention. Someone could have been seriously injured or killed—there could have been a pile-up—if this washing machine had fallen into the path of another vehicle, yet the case did not warrant any further investigation from the enforcement agency that should have been looking into it with urgency.

As I am sure the Minister can appreciate, these are stressful circumstances for my constituents to live in every day, all because of companies that fail to adhere to their responsibility to be good neighbours and keep our local area litter-free, as well as the fact that agencies such as the Environment Agency fail to penalise and fine the offending businesses.

There has been plenty of documentation of visits and activity regarding these issues at the industrial park, including a visit by residents, councillors, council officers and a member of my office who saw run-down premises inviting in flies, smells and vermin and in which they could thrive.