Clause 13 - Powers in relation to landfill operators

Part of Waste and Emissions Trading Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 8th April 2003.

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Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Minister (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Environment) 3:45 pm, 8th April 2003

This has been an interesting debate, and there are important points about the exercise of power. In general, I believe that the hon. Gentleman is right, although I take issue with him on his last remarks.

Amendments Nos. 64 and 65 relate to records that landfill operators will be required to keep about the sending of biodegradable municipal waste to landfills. There are good reasons why a landfill operator will need to keep records and make them available to the monitoring authority in its area—no one is disputing that that underlies the debate. Each waste disposal authority will need to provide the monitoring authority in its area with information about the amount of waste arriving, the amount that it sends to landfill and the amount that it has diverted to other waste management options. One way to verify the information will be to obtain records from landfill

operators about the amount of waste that they have accepted from each waste disposal authority over a certain period.

I may not have fully understood amendment No. 64, but it certainly looks as though its intention is to prevent monitoring authorities from being able to remove records from landfill operators for inspection elsewhere. The reason for giving allocating authorities the power to enable monitoring authorities to remove such records is simply practical. It will be necessary to cross-refer between the records kept by landfill operators and the returns made by waste disposal authorities. It will be a much easier administrative task from the point of view of the monitoring authority and landfill operator if the cross-checking of records can be done from a central point.

The hon. Member for Lewes said that the monitoring authority, which in England could read the Environment Agency, could tamper with the records. Although that could be physically possible, it would be virtually inconceivable, so I do not think that that is even a remotely minimal risk. However, the point is that in order to do its job effectively, the monitoring authority will need to remove the records and take them to a central point. It would not be sensible for inspectors to take all the returns from each waste disposal authority to each landfill site and then to take up office space and possibly staff time in that site as they check through the records. It is purely a question of practicality, simplicity and effectiveness. To prevent it would not be desirable.