I agree with my hon. Friend, and I remember the case she mentions in her constituency of Blaydon. In certain areas, such as driving along the A1231, people can see the plastic still in the trees. We now know that local councils do not have the resources to be picking up constantly after these companies, as they might have done years ago. It is therefore up to these businesses to be more responsible, and if that means that the Environment Agency has to fine them to make them pay for picking up the litter, so be it.
As I have said, I have convened several meetings with the Environment Agency, which is supposed to deal with these problems, and I have repeatedly been told that it does not have the powers or the authority to do anything other than the bare minimum that it has done. To me, it just seems as though these companies get a slap on the wrist. One constituent, Mr Morgan, has described this sorry saga as
“a badly written Groundhog Day movie sequel”,
and I have to admit that I agree with him. The repeated incidents that have been reported and the breaching of operating permits, with the lack of any apparent enforcement action for so long, have left many constituents and me feeling frustrated and disappointed. I am not blaming the Environment Agency, which is acting within its remit and in accordance with what it is allowed to do under the current law. That is what has brought me to the Floor of the House to plead with the Minister, and I have some solutions about what might be done.