Industrial and Commercial Waste Incineration

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:24 pm on 28th January 2020.

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Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 5:24 pm, 28th January 2020

I have so little time, so I hope my right hon. Friend does not mind if I do not.

We are going towards high-quality recycling, but clearly we have residual waste. That is dealt with in a number of ways, which include landfill, incineration with energy recovery and export as refuse-derived fuel. Landfill is the least favoured option. Policies aimed at diverting waste away from landfill mean that, in addition to recycling gains, the volume of waste being treated at energy-from-waste plants has increased. Of course, however, the aim with all the measures in the waste and recycling strategy is to bring that down.

Energy-from-waste plants are regulated by the Environment Agency and must comply with strict emissions limits set in legislation. The agency assesses every application for a new plant to ensure that it will use the best available techniques to minimise emissions and will not have a significant effect on local air quality. The Environment Agency will not issue an environmental permit if the proposed plant would have a significant impact on the environment or harm it. Once operational, energy-from-waste plants are closely regulated and constantly monitored. The views of Public Health England about the potential health effects of such plants are also taken into account, because safety is paramount.

The Government have been very clear about maximising the resource value of waste, including residual waste. That is why we are working to ensure ever greater efficiency in these plants. Waste-to-heat plants were touched on; the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has a fund to move towards heat networks. I know the shadow Minister will welcome that, because it is something he is particularly interested in. If Mrs Hodgson would like a little more information about that particular technique in the plant she mentioned, I am happy to get my experts to advise her.

Motion lapsed, and sitting adjourned without Question put (Standing Order No. 10(14)).