I congratulate Mrs Hodgson on finally securing this debate. I know that she has raised the issue on a number of occasions, both on the Floor of the House and through parliamentary questions, and I am sorry it took her so long to get her debate. The Government do not control the scheduling of these debates, so I can assure her that that was not deliberate.
As the hon. Lady says, a well-functioning and regulated waste industry is essential to ensure that we use our resources efficiently and to minimise impacts on our environment and local communities. The Environment Agency, as she knows, is the lead enforcement agency within Government targeting those who do not comply with the regulatory framework or their permitting conditions.
As the hon. Lady pointed out, badly managed facilities can cause suffering to communities through odour, fires, and vermin or fly infestations, as in the case of her constituency. We therefore take this issue seriously, contrary to some of the points she made.
I will move on to the specifics of the hon. Lady’s case in the Sunderland area and particularly to the waste transfer sites that have caused a problem.