Clause 43 - Clean-up costs

Part of Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 25th January 2005.

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Photo of Ms Sue Doughty Ms Sue Doughty Shadow Minister (the Environment), Environment, Food & Rural Affairs 10:45 am, 25th January 2005

I would like to deal with these two amendments separately. We take on board the Minister's comments on amendment 94, that it is an intrinsic part of the regulations that legal disposal is part of the cost of removing waste. We will seek to withdraw amendment No 94, but I will move amendment No. 115 formally and press it to a vote.

One of my first questions to the Minister was about how we will get convictions in order to pay the clean-up costs. At present, we have a victim but no one pays the costs. The Minister was unable to say that if a farmer had taken reasonable steps to prevent the offence he would not be liable for the costs. He talked about tracking down the person who did it. We know already that the Environment Agency is not tracking such people down. West Surrey farmers made it clear that two things happen if they report incidents to the Environment Agency in the hope that it will try to convict the perpetrator. First, it gives up very early on in the chase, and secondly it tells the farmers to clean up, so they bear the costs. That is unjust. There is no natural justice in this whole approach. It is making the farmers the victims, and it is legitimising a practice that is already taking place.