New clause 30 - Zero waste strategy

Part of Waste and Emissions Trading Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 10th April 2003.

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Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Minister (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Environment) 3:30 pm, 10th April 2003

I am fascinated, and slightly surprised, to see how the hon. Gentleman is getting into coercion. He told me during the lunch break that he was surprised to find me out-lassez-fairing him. He is certainly moving rapidly in the other direction.

I am glad to say that I was right: the figure for partial or whole kerbside collection by local authorities is about 45 per cent. I entirely accept that, as in every process, those who are most resistant will require pressure, but the current pressures in the system will take us a long way in the right direction. As I have already said, we agree that there is a need to secure markets for recyclate. That is why we set up WRAP.

The hon. Member for Lewes spoke about fly tipping, an important and troubling issue. I concur with the figures that he produced, as I think they were drawn from my parliamentary answer. They are worrying: a total of 600,000 tonnes was fly-tipped at various sites throughout the country, which is hideously high. The hon. Gentleman said—his interpretation is not quite correct, although he said it considerately—that the Government were pursuing the right policy by increasing the landfill tax, but that it had made the situation worse.

There is no reason why an increase in the landfill tax should make landfilling worse, because one need not go into the countryside to get rid of waste. One can do it, legally and legitimately, by leaving it at the local authority civic amenity site, which is free for small businesses and households. Even bulky items can be deposited at such sites. An increase the in landfill tax should not, therefore, affect the availability of that form of disposal.