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.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Elliot Morley Elliot Morley Minister of State (Environment and Agri-Environment), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 10:30 am, 25th January 2005

My figure of £12 million comes from the Environment Agency, so on that basis we will have to call it a draw. There is a resources issue, but I would not want the hon. Lady to think that the agency does not have considerable resources available; that is not to be complacent about its budget and the demands on it.

The amendments would apply when a person is convicted of illegal waste disposal. The clause will allow the courts to make an order requiring the offender to pay the costs incurred by the Environment Agency or a local authority or the occupier or owner of the land in respect of removing the waste deposited or disposed of, taking other steps to eliminate or reduce the consequences of the deposit or disposal; or both. I understand the reason for amendment No. 94, which would add ''and its legal disposal'' at the end of paragraph (a): the hon. Lady wants to be assured that steps will be taken to remove the waste and deal with it properly, which is perfectly reasonable.

Amendment No. 115 would add a new subsection providing for those cases in which no such order is made. It would require the Secretary of State to make regulations which provide that the landowner shall not be liable for clean-up costs, provided that he had taken reasonable steps to prevent the offence.

The amendments are unnecessary because the costs incurred in removing the illegally dumped waste by implication will include the costs incurred in legally disposing of it elsewhere. That must be a prerequisite in the proposal. Local authorities sometimes fall out with each other, but if one local authority cleaned up the waste and then drove down the lane and chucked it in a hedge in another local authority, it would undermine the principle involved. I do not think such activity would occur.

There is also no need to make regulations absolving a landowner of liability for clear-up costs, as nothing in the current legislation or the Bill would make him liable—there is no such provision now, and that is not changing. The only provision that will apply to landowners as a result of clause 50 is section 59 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which gives the Environment Agency and waste collection authorities powers to serve clear-up notices on an occupier of land, as has been said. However, notices would be served only if the landowner was felt to be liable in some way for the fly-tipping. The occupier would be able to appeal, and the notice would be quashed if the occupier had neither deposited nor knowingly caused or permitted the depositing of the waste. Should clause 50 stand, the same provision will be extended so as to apply, in the absence of an occupier, to landowners.