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Waste Incineration Facilities — [Sir Roger Gale in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:41 am on 11th February 2020.

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Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 10:41 am, 11th February 2020

I must be clear that local waste planning authorities are responsible for identifying their waste management facility needs and for working out the best direction to take. The hon. Lady will be pleased to hear that the measures in the Environment Bill that will be placed on local authorities will all be costed and funded.

Even after delivering high recycling rates, there is still waste that cannot be recycled or reused because, for example, it is contaminated or there is no end-of-life market for that material. There are choices about how we manage that unavoidable residual waste, and in making those choices we obviously need to consider the long-term environmental impact and the value of the waste resource. Methane is a potential greenhouse gas, and if we landfill biodegradable waste, for example, which is a component of many mixed waste streams, we face the prospect of significant methane emissions and toxic leachates over many years.

The legacy of our reliance on landfill is responsible for around 75% of the carbon emissions from the waste sector. We do not wish that to continue, which is why, as in our resources and waste strategy, we want to reduce the level of municipal waste sent to landfill to 10% or less by 2035, which I think all hon. Friends and hon. Members suggested is a good idea. That is why we are actively exploring policy options to eliminate sending any biodegradable waste to landfill by 2030.

On taxing incinerators—I did not manage to get this point in last time, and I thank the shadow Minister for giving me a bit more time this time—if the wider policies set out in the resources and waste strategy do not deliver our waste ambitions, as laid out in the Environment Bill and the strategy, including higher recycling rates, the Government outlined in the 2018 Budget that we will consider introducing a tax on the incineration of waste, operating in conjunction with the landfill tax and taking account of the possible impact on local authorities.