Fly-tipping and Illegal Dumping — [SIR MARK HENDRICK in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:37 pm on 24 May 2022.

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Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 3:37, 24 May 2022

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Mark. I congratulate my hon. Friend Saqib Bhatti and all right hon. and hon. Members who have come to this Chamber to tell us forcefully that we need to keep our foot to the floor on fly-tipping. It blights all our communities across the country, from Wales to the east of England and from Scotland to Cornwall, but we have heard glimmers of where working together can start to deliver change.

I hope to go over some of the things that my hon. Friend raised and to outline a little more how we are driving forward in some of these areas. As many Members touched upon, and as the head of the Environment Agency said, waste crime is the new narcotics. There is a lot of money in it, and it drives antisocial behaviour. While I am here, I congratulate Mrs Hamilton on her powerful contribution, and her council on being one that really does drive forward those enforcement measures and ensure that people receive the full force of what we are able to do, in telling them that it is not good enough to litter communities and to fly-tip.

The Government have been taking significant action and are committed to stamping out fly-tipping. I share everyone else’s abhorrence of it. It blights communities and the environment. It is extremely impactful on animals and, as we have heard, on human health on occasion. As my hon. Friends the Members for Sevenoaks (Laura Trott) and for Moray (Douglas Ross) said, some of the things that are dumped are completely unacceptable.

Fly-tipping has been debated in the House in previous years. Since then, we have made significant progress and we have given local authorities and regulators new tools to tackle the menace, but we need them to use their powers. It is not enough to keep a cookery book closed; it has to be opened for the joys to be discovered. If councils really want to help us with fly-tipping, they must take every ability we have given them to beat it. We have strengthened powers to search and seize the vehicles of suspected fly-tippers. We have legislated to introduce fixed penalty notices for fly-tipping and for householders who give their waste to fly-tippers. Stephanie Peacock mentioned the need to make sure that licences are checked. Actually, that is a householder’s responsibility, but not everybody knows that they have to do that. As that system becomes electronic, it will be considerably easier for people to go online—like we do with other things—and check the licence. If somebody does not have the appropriate waste carrier licence, they should not be used for waste disposal.

It is important to ensure that everybody is up to date. For example, if a kettle breaks down, as a small electronic good it can be taken back to the retailer and they will get rid of it. Not everybody is aware of that, so they can be seen littered across our countryside. I am due to meet with manufacturers of mattresses on 6 June, because of mattress mountains—I think it was my hon. Friend Paul Bristow who mentioned mattresses being dumped. It is a problem up and down the land. Extended producer responsibility is slowly going through, but I want to see manufacturers coming forward and voluntarily saying what they will do with their items. The paint manufacturing industry recently came to me because it has developed a scheme in Cambridgeshire, which I hope to see, where paint can be taken back to any retailer.

Along with things like the DIY consultation, which we will be completing shortly, it is important that people have options with what to do with their waste. The majority of fly-tipping is the size of a small van or the boot of a car. It is small scale, notwithstanding what my right hon. Friend Sir Gavin Williamson said was happening in some areas of the country. My hon. Friend Robbie Moore mentioned tyres. With particular items, we are having to drill down on how we tackle them.