New Clause 1 - Illegal deposit or disposal of waste (power of arrest)

Part of Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 1st February 2005.

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Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Transport) 10:30 am, 1st February 2005

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

This new clause is perhaps one of the clauses to which the hon. Member for Guildford referred in her remarks a moment ago. If the Government are serious about many of the provisions in the Bill, they must include the power of citizen's arrest by officials from local authorities, particularly the Environment Agency. We saw in earlier provisions that there will be a power to seize a vehicle that is used to perpetrate offences under the Bill, such as the dumping of waste or of large deposits. We want to take that one stage further. Although it is deemed appropriate to take the vehicle off the road and seize it so that that vehicle cannot be used to perpetrate such offences in the future, that would be a very hollow means of dealing with this particularly regrettable and growing form of environmental crime. We know that it is growing: we have the end-of-life directive, there is the fact that hazardous and non-hazardous waste cannot now be co-disposed, and we know that, as of today, there are insufficient sites licensed to take hazardous waste. We have seen a growing mountain of fridges and fridge-freezers under the waste electrical and electronic equipment directive—or the WEEE directive, as it is abbreviated,. We have seen other white goods, such as   microwaves and television sets, increasingly being dumped—again, on privately owned land in country areas.

We believe that it is simply insufficient to remove or seize the vehicle. We would like to empower environmental health officers from local authorities, or indeed environmental officers, to make a citizen's arrest in that regard. It would thus be an arrestable offence of fly-tipping. Without the provisions in our new clause 1, the Bill will simply not have any teeth. We believe that it is quite appropriate that a person authorised by the Environment Agency can exercise the powers, specified under the Environment Act 1995, that they

''shall have like powers to those of a constable to arrest any person depositing or disposing of waste in contravention of subsection (1)''.

I would also hope that that power would be available either if the person were caught in the act or perhaps caught on camera. If it could be shown physically that it was that person, that could be taken as proof. We believe it is the most positive contribution that the Bill could make and would give it real teeth.

I hope that the Minister will look favourably on our new clause. We believe the present arrangements are unsatisfactory: I have had regular meetings with ENCAMS in my own region and with the Environment Agency. We have made representations and had positive and sympathetic replies from ENCAMS and the Environment Agency nationally. Our conclusion is that the provision is completely insufficient, as the Bill stands, to seize only the vehicle. The perpetrator or perpetrators of these environmental offences must be seized.