HC Deb 11 June 1996 vol 279 cc111-2W
Sir David Steel

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement outlining the respective roles of his Department and the new Environment Agency in implementing the landfill tax, with special reference to what new steps will be taken to prevent illegal dumping and fly tipping in the countryside, and to relieve landowners on whose property such waste is deposited from liability to pay the tax when they transport it to designated landfill sites. [31616]

Mr. Gummer

My Department is responsible for the overall regulatory framework for waste management in England and Wales. Regulations implemented on 1 May 1994 introduced a new waste management licensing system. The associated duty of care for waste came into force on 1 April 1992. The penalties that can be imposed for offences relating to waste are already severe, and these controls provide a strong regulatory framework to support the introduction of the landfill tax. My Department will also write to the courts before the start of the tax on 1 October 1996, to draw their attention to the financial gains that can be made by those who dispose of waste illegally.

The Environment Agency is the competent authority for the purposes of waste management licensing. The agency has the resources and the expertise to advise on the legal and sound management of waste, to investigate offences and to carry out enforcement action. The Government's guidance to the agency on its objectives and contribution to sustainable development, which will be laid before Parliament very shortly, will clarify its role in this area. Ministers will expect the agency to act upon its powers and to review procedures for preventing and handling cases of fly tipping.

The Government have no plans to relieve the occupiers of land on which waste is deposited illegally from liability to pay landfill tax where they dispose of the waste to licensed landfill sites.