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

We are straying into sentencing and so on, which does not come under my Department. Much of what has been spoken about today involves me talking to colleagues in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and so on. However, I will take away those questions, because I think it is right that the fine should fit the crime. Those discussions are ongoing.

We are looking to improve the environmental quality of all our communities. We have more ambitious plans, such as introducing the deposit return scheme to ensure that billions more drink bottles and cans are safely returned and recycled, and to ensure that the recyclate coming from that is of a better quality, so that it can enter a circular economy. I fully agree that that is what we should be aiming for. As I say, we have spoken to National Highways to tackle the scourge of roadside litter, and to the Ministry of Justice to support the community payback schemes that have been so fantastic at cleaning up some of our communities. We also want to explore what more can be done on sentencing for more serious waste-related crimes.

As part of wider reforms, extended producer responsibility will move the cost of the disposal of packaging in street bins from local taxpayers and residents on to the producer. I am sure that that strikes us all as fairer. These measures will have an enormous impact on plastic and other litter that we see on our streets, in our and in our waterways. To support innovative local action, in 2012 we commissioned the Waste and Resources Action Programme to administer the fly-tipping intervention grant scheme on our behalf. That was the grant of £450,000, which many Members mentioned, to enable a number of councils to implement a range of measures to tackle fly-tipping. Projects being funded include a combination of artificial intelligence and APNR cameras in Buckingham, the trial of “No bags on the street” in Newham, CCTV enforcement in Durham, and directing offenders to a digital education tool. I am pleased to say that we are looking to extend that grant, and I will be giving more details. It has been very popular, and many councils wish they could have availed themselves of it.

We also recognise the importance of local residents being able to dispose of rubbish in a responsible, simple way. We are working with councils on legislative powers to bring in consistent collections to make the system easier. We are consulting on preventing charges for DIY waste because, as many Members have said, that is a problem that blights neighbourhoods. We are also seeking views on household waste recycling centres because, again, some behaviours have changed over the past two years with the covid pandemic. As we have seen, that has led to a rise in some of the behaviours that we want to drum down on.