Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 29th February 2012.

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Photo of David Mowat David Mowat Conservative, Warrington South

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what level of insurance her Department requires companies who (a) operate on and (b) operate landfill sites to hold in respect of environmental damage.

Photo of Richard Benyon Richard Benyon The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

There is currently no specific legal requirement under the Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations 2009 to hold insurance in respect of 'environmental damage' within the meaning of those regulations.

For non-landfill waste management activities, the Environment Agency only issues an environmental permit if it is satisfied that the operator is capable of meeting the obligations under the permit. The Environment Agency makes a risk-based assessment of whether the operator has any current or past insolvency and/or bankruptcy proceedings, and performs a credit check (or undertakes further investigations) where appropriate.

Under the EU Landfill Directive, there is a requirement that operators have made adequate provisions by way of financial security to meet the obligations arising under their environmental permit and the provisions of the directive. This includes provision for the closure and long-term aftercare needed for most landfill sites.

The grant of an environmental permit for a landfill site is subject to the need for the operator to make financial provision that must be 'adequate' to discharge the obligations under the permit for as long as is required. This means that the provision has to be: sufficient (in monetary terms) to meet the obligations of the permit; secure for the duration of the permit; and available when required to discharge permit obligations.

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