It is a real honour to speak in this important debate, Sir Mark. I congratulate my hon. Friend Saqib Bhatti on securing it. I should declare an interest as a former councillor for many years.
I think we are on a journey. When I first got elected as a lowly parish councillor in 2004, recycling was nowhere near as good as it is today, so I congratulate constituents up and down the country for doing the right thing. My own council, the Three Rivers District Council, is the third best performing council in the country for recycling, so I wish to put on the record my thanks to my constituents for doing the right thing.
As others have said, illegal fly-tipping can cause significant damage, especially to local wildlife but also to the perception of communities. My hon. Friend Stephen Hammond referred to Network Rail. The speed at which fly-tipped waste is collected can have a detrimental effect. If we do not encourage all actors to quickly resolve the issue, there can be a spiral of disrepair.
I represent South West Hertfordshire, a beautiful constituency that is about 80% green belt. Others have spoken about the cost to private landlords when fly-tipping takes place on their land. This Government and previous Administrations have done a lot of work on this issue, such as confiscating vehicles found guilty of crime, but more can be done. Part of that, as others have said, is education. I had a constituent who was a victim of beer barrels being fly-tipped. The local council claimed that it was investigating, but it ended up that the constituent spoke to the offender, during a time when they were undergoing radiotherapy. That should not have had to happen. There is always a human victim at the end of this crime. The land can be blighted, but it is the landowner or occupier who has to deal with the issue.
The private sector is also affected. Waste collectors that do the job properly get targeted or associated with the poor performers. I know that they are proud of their industry. I am really keen for the cost base to remain low; we need to make sure that where businesses are doing the right thing, we congratulate them. This place is one of many where we are able to do so.
I welcome the Government’s April announcement on new council grants and a specific focus on new technology, the use of CCTV and ANPR cameras, and education. Stephanie Peacock mentioned the police and crime commissioner in Hertfordshire. Buckinghamshire, just across the way from me, has extended its funding to local councils. I hope that Hertfordshire councils—district, borough and the county council—can look into doing a bit more.
The Government have adopted new technology with new applications coming out. I look forward to investigating that more. I am a firm believer that the world evolves and it is right that the Government lead those conversations. The consultation published last month on the change in household waste recycling centres is really important. The past two years have seen a lot of homeowners redevelop their own homes. Having a cheap and easy way of making best use of waste facilities is good.
I am conscious of time, so I will wrap up. I congratulate the Minister on the excellent work that she continues to do in this area.