Waste Crime

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons on 31st October 2019.

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Photo of Craig Tracey Craig Tracey Conservative, North Warwickshire

What plans her Department has to tackle waste crime.

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Waste crime blights local communities and the environment, and we are committed to tackling it. We have given the Environment Agency £60 million extra to tackle waste crime since 2014. The Environment Bill takes forward a number of commitments on preventing, detecting and deterring waste crime.

Photo of Craig Tracey Craig Tracey Conservative, North Warwickshire

Fly-tipping is a scourge in many communities across North Warwickshire and Bedworth, and it costs councils and local landowners hundreds of thousands of pounds to clear up, but it is often unwittingly facilitated by householders failing to ask whether a valid waste licence is in place. What steps can householders take to check that there is a valid licence, so that they do not unwittingly become the recipient of a fine themselves?

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Householders can check using the carrier’s business name or registration number, which the carrier should be able to give them on request, and they have the opportunity to check those against the details on the Environment Agency website, or by ringing the Environment Agency helpline.

Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Opposition Whip (Commons)

I would like to say, Mr Speaker, what a pleasure it has been to serve under your speakership during my time in Parliament.

Recently, I went out with members of the National Farmers’ Union in my constituency and was horrified to discover a spate of fly-tipping of very dubious materials that then need to be checked by the landowner. The landowner has a responsibility to check out the hazardous nature of the materials and then to dispose of them safely. This is putting much additional pressure on farmers and rural communities. What can the Government do to support those rural communities and the police forces who continue to be under significant pressure to address this spate of fly-tipping?

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I share the hon. Gentleman’s concerns. Fly-tipping is completely unacceptable, and it is blighting life in rural areas, in suburban areas, such as my constituency, and in urban areas. One thing the Environment Bill will do is facilitate the introduction of electronic waste-tracking, which should assist the law enforcement authorities to crack down on this unacceptable crime.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West

One of your predecessors, Mr Speaker, congratulated me on always addressing the Chair. If I may say it has been my particular privilege to address the Chair when you are in it, and, if I may also say, those who stand beside it have always gone to extraordinary lengths to be helpful.

The New Forest is being desecrated by people fly-tipping. Will my right hon. Friend have a word with her colleagues in the Ministry of Justice to ensure that we are more robust with respect to punishments—perhaps garrotting perpetrators with their own intestines?

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I am not sure that I could go quite that far. Certainly, in providing extra resources for the Environment Agency, we are absolutely determined to crack down on this deeply antisocial crime. I hope the courts will view it seriously and inflict appropriate punishment.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

I thank the right hon. Gentleman. The word “inimitable” could have been invented to describe him, and that is supposed to be the warmest compliment. I genuinely appreciate what he said.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow DUP Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

May I join others in expressing the hope that no circumlocutory measures will be put in place to try to restrict your perorations post your retirement, during the next stage in your career?

May I ask the Minister to liaise with the Northern Ireland authorities to ensure that action is taken on the huge waste dump at Mobuoy, outside Londonderry, to ensure that restrictions are put in place and that we pursue those responsible?

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I am happy to engage with the Northern Ireland authorities on that important question.

Several hon. Members:

rose—

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

We are running late, but, of course, the Chair has the benefit of Kantian perfect information. That is to say that I know how many people have or have not applied to speak in subsequent business, and subsequent business is not especially heavily subscribed. My priority is to try to accommodate, within reason, Back Benchers.