§ Lord Judd
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What is the latest position on the ratification of the 1989 Basel Convention and the 1995 amendment to that convention banning all toxic waste exports from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to non-OECD countries; what arrangements have been made to implement that ban so far as the United Kingdom is concerned, and what action they are taking to resist any attempts to modify the list of hazardous wastes covered by the convention.
Her Majesty's Government signed the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal in 1989 and ratified it in February 1994.
In September 1995, the Third Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention adopted an amendment to the Convention to prohibit the export of hazardous wastes from OECD to non-OECD countries. The amendment bans exports for disposal immediately, and bans exports for recovery as from 31st December 1997. The amendment will, however, only enter into force when it has been ratified by the required number of Parties.
The provisions of the convention are implemented in the European Community by Council Regulation (EEC) No. 259/93 (`the Waste Shipments Regulation'). The Community and its member states will not be in a position to ratify the amendment until the Waste Shipments Regulation has been amended. The Council of Ministers reached a Common Position in March on proposals to amend the regulation. The European 29WA Parliament gave its Opinion at second reading in September, which is now with the Council for consideration.
It is already the Government's policy, reflected in the United Kingdom Management Plan for Exports and Imports of Waste which was published in May, that wastes on the so-called 'amber' and 'red' OECD lists should not be exported to non-OECD countries for recovery, other than under very limited exceptions which are prescribed in the plan. The United Kingdom became self-sufficient in waste disposal in 1992, and has not exported any waste for disposal since then.
The Technical Working Group of the Basel Convention is currently drawing up, at the request of the Contracting Parties, a list of wastes characterised as hazardous for the purposes of the convention. The United Kingdom is playing a full part in these discussions.