§ Mr. Michael Brown
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will publish the second report of the hazardous waste inspectorate; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Ridley
On behalf of myself and the Secretaries of State for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, I am pleased to welcome the second report of the Hazardous Waste Inspectorate published today. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The report is concerned with the standards achieved in the disposal of hazardous wastes for the year ending 31 March 1986. Whilst in general terms the report reiterates the critical message of the inspectorate's 1985 report, repeating and further detailing the observations of widely differing standards of disposal site licensing, operation and inspection across the country, it also notes some encouraging improvements.
The report extends the inspectorate's observations of disparate operational and control standards to sites operated by waste producers, and comments favourably on standards of waste management in the very small number of Crown establishments which have been visited by the inspectorate.
In noting improvements which have occurred, the report draws attention both to operational improvements at some of the worst sites upon which the inspectorate previously reported, and to the encouraging moves by some waste disposal authorities in the deployment of additional resources to this important aspect of their duties.
The report details specific incidents where the technical guidance on best practice issued by my Department's series of waste management papers has been disregarded without, apparently, breaching disposal site licence conditions and calls, therefore, for clearer definition of the best practicable environmental option for the disposal of certain waste streams, together with the revision of site licensing guidance provided by my Department, disposal site licence conditions and calls, therefore, for clearer definition of the best practicable environmental option for the disposal of certain waste streams, together with the revision of site licensing guidance provided by my Department. Drawing upon those examples and upon its preliminary review of disposal site licence conditions for a number of major landfill disposal sites, the Hazardous Waste Inspectorate also advocates improved standards of landfill site licensing. In particular, it calls for clearer definition of the types and quantitties of wastes acceptable at landfill sites, for improved monitoring and for more care to be taken in ensuring that the conditions imposed upon licences or local authority resolutions are enforceable.
The Government welcome the signs of improvement recorded by the inspectorate as an indication of what can be achieved within the existing statute. However, higher standards must be consistently achieved across the country in future and the Government announced their intention to introduce tougher waste management controls on 10 December 1985. These proposals are in an advanced stage 49W of preparation before being put out to consultation. I am convinced that these, together with the revision of guidance on disposal site licensing, will further secure the improvements which are needed in standards of waste management.