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

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

Alert me about debates like this

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 am going to plough on, because I want to get some of the points across that I could not make last time.

As the planning application referred to by the hon. Member for Washington and Sunderland West is subject to an appeal, it is the role of the Planning Inspectorate to consider all the material planning considerations that are relevant to the case, and from all parties, including the local planning authority, the applicant and those who might have made representations on the application—and of course all those people who signed the petition. However, I note the request made to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government for him to recover the appeal for his determination. As it is a live planning appeal, I am sure the hon. Member understands that it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.

Once operational, energy-from-waste plants are closely regulated through a programme of regular inspections and audits carried out by the Environment Agency, which also carefully considers the results of the continuous air emissions monitoring that all plants must do to meet the conditions of their environmental permit.

Kate Osamor raised the issue of air quality in particular, but air quality is of course devolved to local authorities, and the Greater London Authority is responsible for what happens in London. However, energy-from-waste plants must report any breaches in respect of emissions to the EA within 24 hours, so there are strict controls.

Health issues were touched on in particular. As part of the permitting process, the Environment Agency consults Public Health England and the local director of public health on every energy-from-waste application that it receives and takes their comments into account when deciding whether to issue a permit. I must point out that our clean air strategy has been commended by the World Health Organisation, and there are aims in it to halve any harm caused to human health by air quality. We therefore have strict controls coming down the tracks, and local authorities are all becoming engaged with them. Hon. Members should note that Public Health England’s position remains that modern and well run and regulated municipal waste incinerators are not a significant risk to public health. That is what that body itself has said.