Clause 7 - Trading and other transfer of landfill allowances

Part of Waste and Emissions Trading Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:30 am on 8th April 2003.

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Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Minister (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Environment) 9:30 am, 8th April 2003

I do not agree with that, and I shall explain why I am convinced that the hon. Gentleman is wrong when the point arises logically in my comments.

The amendment would not be consistent with the way in which money is allocated to authorities. As hon. Members know, that is done through the block environmental, protective and cultural services grant element of the revenue support grant, which is set every three years in the spending review. It would not be consistent to provide funding outside the block grant, as proposed.

In any case, the duty to provide information under the Bill—here, I do agree with the hon. Member for Lewes—should not prove terribly onerous. The amendment relates to providing extra information, but the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire is hyping it a bit when he says that there will be fairly extensive new burdens. That will not be the case.

The system that the Environment Agency proposes to use in England and Wales to calculate the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill will require WDAs to use only the records that they already keep. For the necessary calculations to be made, WDAs will need to tell the monitoring authority—we will discuss who that is in later clauses—only the quantities of municipal waste arisings and of waste that is diverted through recycling, composting, incineration or mechanical-biological treatment. As most WDAs are already collecting such information, the additional burden will be only one of reporting it to the monitoring authority. That cannot be construed as anything other than a fairly minor extra cost. Scotland and Northern Ireland are likely to take a similar approach.

As I said at Second Reading, I am aware that there will be some costs involved, but the Government already provide waste disposal authorities with significant extra resources for waste management to enable them to carry out the duties to which the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker) referred. For example, in the last two spending reviews we substantially increased the provision for environmental, protective and cultural services, including waste. Spending review 2000 increased provision in this block by £1.1 billion over three years, and spending review 2002 increased provision by a further £671 million over the three years to 2005–06. Over those five years—the third year of the first review period is the first year of the second review period—the extra sum in this part of the revenue support grant, which is predominately although not entirely about waste, is being increased by slightly more than £1.75 billion. That is a very substantial sum. Expenditure in the three financial years 2005–06 to 2007–08 will be dealt with in spending review 2004, which we have already begun to examine.

The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire referred to the Friends of the Earth calculation about separate collection, and that is the subject of a private Member's Bill. Friends of the Earth's calculation—these are its figures; I am not confirming them—is that it could cost £17 per household and up to nearly £400 million for the whole country. Even if those figures are correct, the extra provision more than adequately covers them. I give the same answer to the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle. He should ask the leader of the council what extra amount the council received in the spending review periods for EPCS. That is the critical consideration. I would like to know how the amount that his council received compares with the figures that he quoted.