Clause 43 - Clean-up costs

Part of Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 25th January 2005.

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Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Conservative, Ribble Valley 10:30 am, 25th January 2005

Absolutely. I agree that farmers are not the only ones affected, but I hope that the hon. Lady will excuse my using farming as a reference point for us. I heard what was said from the other side of the Committee about urban tipping. Clearly, some people who do not live in rural areas but own a bit of waste land and keep it in good order could come back to their works to find that someone has tipped waste on their land and that they could be liable for its removal. That could affect a number of organisations, as the hon. Lady rightly says, which is why her amendment is designed to give them some protection.

As I said earlier, the Minister has enough common sense and is realistic enough to know that those things happen. We hope that there will be a deterrent under clause 41, and that clause 43 will let people know that if they are convicted they will not get away with it but will have to pay the disposal costs, too. That is absolutely right.

Furthermore, the mess made by anyone who is convicted should be cleaned up pronto, because as the Minister for Rural Affairs and Local Environmental Quality knows, as he took the right-to-roam legislation through the House, more people have more access to more land than ever before. If the waste is allowed to remain, it will become a danger to youngsters and people walking in the countryside, and a magnet for rodents. Fridges, for example, may seem attractive to youngsters to play in, but that can end in tragedy.

Waste should be removed as quickly as possible but if it proves difficult to identify who tipped the waste, the amendment would help to ensure that an innocent party such as a farmer or a landowner does not have to pick up the extra costs when they have taken reasonable steps to ensure that their land has been protected. I hope that local authorities and the Environment Agency will encourage farmers and landowners to report incidents of waste being dumped on their land. As the Minister for Rural Affairs and Local Environmental Quality said, we need that data so that we know how big the problem is, but people who report such incidents must know that they will not have to face a huge bill for clearing up the mess.