Waste Bill, 1995: Second Stage.

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Publication of the Waste Bill, 1995, fulfils the commitment of the policy agreement A Government of Renewal that framework waste legislation would be published at an early date. The essential purposes of the measures provided for in this Bill are to prevent and reduce waste production, to encourage and assist recycling and recovery of waste, and to reduce the risk to, and impact on, the environment from waste by strict control of waste collection, movement and disposal. This Bill will provide a comprehensive and flexible framework for legislative support of these policies well into the next century. I look forward to a positive and constructive debate on it.

In recent decades we witnessed a profound change in our attitudes to the environment. Economic growth and development remain important goals, but we now appreciate more fully that proper care must be taken of the environmental resources on which economic activity and indeed human survival are based. Sustainable development requires that in pursuing economic development to meet the needs of the present generation we do not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Environmental protection and economic development must be mutually consistent and supportive. However, this simple concept is difficult to put into practice, and nowhere is this more so than in relation to waste management.

Agenda 21, the most important product of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, stated that: "human health and environmental quality are being continually degraded by the increasing amount of waste being produced, despite increasing efforts to prevent waste accumulation and to promote recycling". The statistics underlying these comments are convincing. The OECD area, comprising the world's most developed countries, generated some nine billion tonnes of waste in 1990, including more than 300 million tonnes of hazardous waste. This pattern of waste generation is creating demands which are increasingly being recognised as going beyond the carrying capacity of the environment. The EU Fifth Environment Action Programme notes, as a disquieting trend, that despite increased efforts at waste prevention and recycling, waste produced in the Union increased by 13 per cent between 1987 and 1992.

These patterns are also reflected in Ireland. We generate annually an estimated 6.5 million tonnes of municipal and industrial waste in addition to even larger quantities of agricultural, mining and other wastes. Municipal waste from the domestic and commercial sectors amounts to some 1.7 million tonnes and there are substantial costs associated with the safe management of these wastes. In 1994 expenditure on waste management by local authorities alone exceeded £65 million.

Waste is one of the most complex areas of present day environmental management. Waste issues are inextricably linked with consumption, lifestyle, economic activity and industrial policy. Their solution requires acceptance of the principle of shared responsibility for the environment by everyone in the community. It will also require radical changes to current waste management policies and adjustments of lifestyles.

One very topical environmental issue illustrates the progress which has been made in terms of public awareness. This Bill does not address the issue of dumping at sea, but the current international controversy over the proposed dumping of theBrent Spar oil rig in the north Atlantic is an indication that public attitudes have changed significantly. The Government is very concerned that this proposal may represent a serious threat to the marine environment arising from the possible presence within the installation of PCBs, oily sludges and radioactive sludge.

The Minister will not even make specific proposals for dumping at sea. He is waiting for the publication of the European Union regulations.

Deputy Callely, please desist from interrupting.

Is there a quorum present?

The Deputy is entitled to call for a quorum, but he is not entitled to intervene and disrupt the proceedings of this House.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

The topical issue of dumping at sea indicates the change in attitude of the general public to the environment. Irish authorities have already raised this issue at the appropriate international fora. We will continue to press, alongside many of our European partners, for a halt to this marine dumping proposal, pending a review at the Joint Oslo Paris Commission meeting next week of the rules governing the disposal of redundant offshore installations. I intend personally to raise this issue at a formal meeting of EU Environment Ministers to be held on Thursday and Friday this week in Luxembourg.

EU legislation and policies now represent a major input to the approach to waste management in all member states. Both hazardous and non-hazardous wastes are controlled under the important Framework Directive on Waste which was updated in 1991. There are European Union legislative provisions also in relation to waste movement and export, packaging waste recycling, waste incineration and, prospectively, landfill of waste.

The European Union involvement in waste issues is driven by the need to maintain a level playing field for industry and business, based on high environmental standards. It is motivated also by the transboundary nature of many waste issues and by the need to ensure an integrated and adequate network of waste management facilities across the Union. Few countries are completely self-sufficient in this regard: it can be necessary to rely on facilities located elsewhere in the European Union both for specialised waste disposal and for recycling purposes.

EU waste policy is based on a well known hierachy of principles: these give priority first to the prevention and minimisation of waste, then to their reuse and recovery and finally to the environmentally sound disposal of wastes which cannot otherwise be dealt with.

Ireland too is experiencing many changes of attitude and practice in relation to waste management. The public have become rightly more sensitive to the environmental hazards of waste disposal. This is leading to increased public support for waste prevention and recycling, as well as insistence on higher standards for waste disposal.

Major changes on the ground are visible compared to only four or five years ago. Nearly 400 collection points for recyclable materials have been established around the country. New landfills have been provided which embody sophisticated leachate and gas control systems. The price of waste disposal is rising substantially as a result of these higher standards. This is economically onerous but environmentally progressive in so far as it makes recycling a more viable economic option. There is a growing involvement of the private sector in Irish waste operations.

There is also in place a Government approved national recycling strategy. An industry task force is responding to this strategy and has recently extended its work by the engagement of international consultants who will help to complete the report. I regard the work of the industry task force as important and urgent and I look forward to receiving its proposals soon.

A range of other measures and instruments is being developed to promote a more sustained and sustainable approach to waste management in Ireland. These include application of integrated pollution control licensing under the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992 for certain waste activities; development by the agency of criteria and procedures for the selection, management, operation and termination of landfill sites by local authorities; provision of EU co-financing — under the Operational Programme for Environmental Services 1994-99 — of some £30 million to assist better waste planning and the provision of waste recovery and hazardous waste management facilities; studies now in progress by the Economic and Social Research Institute on the economic elements of a strategy for optimal solid waste management in Ireland and for the use of economic instruments for environmental purposes, and a major project on waste statistics now being initiated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

All these responses show that many changes have already taken place in Ireland to adapt to the more progressive and sustainable approaches to waste management which are increasingly being pursued in the developed world.

The Waste Bill is a new and major contribution to this process. It is a framework proposal which will provide the necessary enabling and regulatory powers to apply and adapt policy measures in the face of changing environmental, economic, technical and administrative conditions. Fundamental principles are clearly established in the Bill. Many of the specific measures and obligations provided for, with many detailed technical standards and administrative procedures, will remain to be applied by way of secondary legislation which will follow as a matter of priority after the Bill is enacted.

The main objectives of the Waste Bill are to provide for a more effective organisation of public authority functions in relation to waste management, involving new or redefined roles for the Minister for the Environment, the Environmental Protection Agency and local authorities; enabling measures, designed to improve our performance in relation to the prevention, minimisation and recovery of wastes; and a comprehensive statutory framework for the application of higher environmental standards, in response to European Union and national waste management requirements.

I would like first to give a brief outline of the structure of the Bill and then to describe some of its more important features. I will be glad to respond at the conclusion of Second Stage to all points Deputies may raise. A detailed explanatory and financial memorandum on the Waste Bill has already been circulated, with a more general policy statement and guide to the Bill.

The Bill is structured in seven parts. Part I contains standard provisions dealing with such matters as interpretation, regulations, offences, penalties and other general matters. There are also provisions regarding information, monitoring and inspection, and the powers of authorised officers. Part II deals with waste management planning. It provides for the making of a national hazardous waste management plan by the Environmental Protection Agency and for improved and systematic arrangements for local authority waste management plans. Part III provides a framework for wide-ranging measures in support of waste prevention, minimisation and recovery. Part IV provides for basic obligations on all holders of waste, including householders, to prevent environmental pollution, and for the control of waste collection and movement internally and internationally.

Part V provides for the establishment of an integrated licensing system to be operated by the agency in respect of most waste recovery and disposal activities and for alternative controls in respect of other lower risk activities. Part VI contains provisions allowing various measures to be taken to prevent or mitigate environmental pollution caused by waste, similar to equivalent provisions under air and water legislation currently in place. Part VII contains miscellaneous provisions, and deals in particular with policy directions in relation to waste licensing and the movement of waste, the authorisation of waste disposal under other enactments, and powers to give effect to further EU obligations on waste.

The First and Second Schedules specify, respectively, categories of waste and hazardous waste. The Third and Fourth Schedules specify, respectively, waste recovery and disposal activities which are licensable. The Fifth Schedule deals with repeals and revocations.

The scope of the Bill as defined in Part I is very broad. The Bill relates to all types of waste apart from the specific wastes and waste activities excluded by section 3, which are already covered by other legislation. These exclusions relate principally to sewage and sewage effluent, radioactive wastes and dumping at sea, all of which are controlled under other statutory codes.

I should make it clear that the Bill will not extend either to the reform and updating of the law on litter, which is now contained in the Litter Act, 1982. I am committed to this as a separate legislative proposal which I hope to publish later this year. Litter is different from the generality of waste; for example, it is difficult to ascribe ownership to it and it does not present the characteristics of toxicity associated with the solid wastes which the present Bill will control. It is dealt with separately from solid waste in a number of legislative systems, including that of the United Kingdom.

Part II of the Bill provides for a more rigorous waste planning system involving, for the first time, a formal procedure for public consultation and input. The present position is that the major local authorities are required to prepare waste management plans, in respect of both non-hazardous and "special" wastes. The Bill provides that the Environmental Protection Agency will be required to prepare a national hazardous waste management plan. Other public authorities having a function in relation to hazardous waste will be required to have due regard to provisions contained in the national plan; the agency will be empowered to issue specific recommendations to individual local authorities arising from the plan.

The major local authorities will continue to prepare detailed waste management plans, either individually or jointly, to be reviewed every five years. These plans will deal primarily with non-hazardous wastes. A formal procedure for public consultation is being introduced.

The Bill specifies certain matters to be dealt with in waste and hazardous waste management plans. In particular, all waste management plans will be required to focus closely on the scope for waste prevention and waste recovery, including recycling. The Minister will have power to specify in detail the form and content of local authority plans, to require local authorities to coordinate their plans or to make joint plans, and to require that a local authority plan be varied. These proposals are intended significantly to strengthen the function of planning for waste management.

Section 28 in particular deals with waste prevention and represents the very significant new "front end" approach to secure the avoidance of waste. It provides for support programmes in respect of research or development projects and for the imposition of a range of possible regulatory measures. These may include requirements on service, commercial or industrial activity to carry out waste audits and waste reduction programmes, and stringent controls upon the import, production or use of problematic substances or products. They may also include the publication of reports by businesses as to the steps they have taken to comply with these requirements.

Section 29 provides for a range of measures to promote the recovery of waste. For example, the Minister for the Environment will be empowered to introduce mandatory deposit and refund schemes, take-back requirements to be operated by producers or consumers and charges by retailers for items of packaging. Section 29 also provides for a scheme of recycling credits to be operated by local authorities.

An exemption from some of the mandatory provisions of section 29 may be given to companies which participate in voluntary recycling schemes which have been approved by the Minister. This combination of mandatory take-back obligations which are held in reserve and voluntary industry led arrangements is already operating successfully in a number of EU countries.

I expect public authorities to lead by example in pursuing sustainable activity and demonstrating best environmental management practice, through good housekeeping and environmentally-sensitive procurement policies. Sections 30 and 31 make appropriate provision in this regard. Among other things, they require the Minister for the Environment to promulgate a comprehensive programme for the prevention, minimisation and recovery of waste by public authorities in carrying out their operations.

Part IV relates to the holding, collection and movement of waste. This Part contains some of the basic statutory provisions for environmental protection against irresponsible handling or disposal of waste. Section 32 expressly prohibits any person from holding, recovering or disposing of waste in a manner which may cause environmental pollution. It prohibits a person holding waste from handing the waste over to a person who is not properly authorised to deal with waste.

Part IV also clarifies and expands the role of local authorities in relation to waste collection. In general, local authorities will be required to ensure that there is an adequate household waste collection service within their functional areas and, if necessary, to provide, or arrange for the provision of, necessary services. Local authorities will be empowered to provide collection services for non-household wastes at their discretion.

Waste collection services are increasingly being provided by commercial operators. In order to ensure that these operations are carried out in an environmentally sound manner, the Bill provides that commercial collectors of waste will require a permit from the relevant local authority.

Local authorities will also be empowered to make by-laws controlling the presentation of waste for collection within their areas. For example, by-laws could be used to regulate the time and manner for leaving out waste for collection, to reduce litter and to facilitate the segregation and separate collection of recyclable wastes. The Bill confers wide powers on the Environmental Protection Agency and major local authorities to control the movement of individual waste consignments, both within the country and internationally.

Part V of the Bill relates to the provision and licensing of waste recovery and disposal facilities. The major local authorities will have a statutory duty to ensure there are adequate facilities for the recovery or disposal of domestic wastes arising in their areas and will be empowered to provide any other infrastructure considered necessary for good waste management.

A major organisational reform proposed in the Bill is that the Environmental Protection Agency will be made responsible for the licensing of all significant waste recovery and disposal activities. The present position is that the 34 major local authorities — county councils and county borough corporations — are responsible for the planning, organisation, authorisation and supervision of waste operations in their areas. The larger local authorities are therefore in the position of being both "gamekeeper and poacher" in relation to waste disposal. This does not foster public confidence in local authority landfills, some of which are known to be operating below acceptable standards. It is more appropriate that waste disposal and recovery operations be licensed by a competent third party. The Environmental Protection Agency is the appropriate body, having the necessary expertise, to fulfil this important regulatory role.

Before granting a waste licence, the agency must be satisfied, among other things, that the best available technology not entailing excessive costs will be used to prevent, limit or reduce emissions from the activity concerned, that such emissions will comply with any relevant environmental standards and that the activity will not cause environmental pollution.

The Bill sets out the criteria to be considered by the agency in determining BATNEEC for a particular activity. New facilities will generally be required to meet state of the art environmental standards. In the case of established activities, such as existing landfills, additional criteria will apply. Among these are the nature and age of a facility, its likely remaining operational lifespan and the cost of improvements in relation to the economic situation of the activity in question. In other words, somewhat less stringent standards may be applied to existing landfill operations for which there is a definite programme of closure. The Environmental Protection Agency may also impose conditions regarding adequate financial provision for closure and aftercare of a facility.

The agency will continue to operate the integrated pollution control licensing system established under the 1992 Act, where applicable, to control waste disposal activities. Those activities which are already licensable under the 1992 Act — which include virtually all waste incineration — will not require a licence under the Waste Bill.

The Bill's provisions for public consultation and the making of objections in relation to licensing decisions are similar to those applying in relation to licences granted by the agency under the 1992 Act and reflect the need for meaningful public participation while also facilitating the speedy processing of licence applications.

The recovery of sludges and natural non-hazardous agricultural wastes will not need a waste licence. The Minister for the Environment will also have power under section 39 to exempt other specified waste activities from waste licensing, so long as other appropriate controls are applied. For all of these wastes, the Bill provides for the possibility of alternative regulatory controls to be implemented by local authorities.

I am satisfied that the licensing regime provided for under this Bill will be rigorous and effective and will enable us fully to apply existing and prospective EU standards and requirements in relation to waste recovery and disposal in a manner which also engenders public confidence. This I regard as very important.

While compliance with waste licence conditions will be a matter for the agency, local authorities will be responsible for the day-to-day supervision of waste activities generally within their functional areas. Offences under the Bill will carry maximum penalties of fines up to £1,500 and or imprisonment for six months on summary conviction and of fines up to £10 million and or imprisonment for ten years on conviction on indictment. These penalties reflect the potential threat posed by improper waste management and are of an appropriate magnitude to act as a deterrent to any would-be polluter.

Part VI of the Bill contains a range of provisions for various purposes. I refer in particular to section 64, which relates to the provision of information in relation to the mass balance of substances used, consumed and released into the environment by particular processes. The "mass balance" approach provided for in this section will ensure that a comprehensive range of information may be obtained to facilitate the preparation of a national toxic emissions inventory by the Environmental Protection Agency, promised under the Programme for Government. This is intended to improve the quantity and quality of information available to the public and to facilitate and encourage the progressive reduction of certain hazardous wastes.

A requirement on companies to report on their waste production for the purposes of a toxic release inventory has been shown in the United States and some other countries to be a most effective means to promote waste reduction. It has gained widespread support, including support from companies many of which were initially surprised at the magnitude of their releases to the environment and the potential for cost savings by reducing waste at source. Voluntary programmes, jointly established by government and industry, for the phasing out of problematic chemicals are now operating very successfully in some countries. There is a significant body of international opinion that reductions of toxic waste at source can best be achieved through a combination of legislative requirements to secure good quality data on problematic substances and voluntary measures targeted at these substances and wastes.

The Waste Bill will have economic and financial implications for industrial, commercial, agricultural and consumer interests, as well as public authorities.

Increased costs will arise as a consequence of more stringent regulatory standards for waste treatment and disposal as well as recycling obligations.

The Bill will therefore impact financially on all of us whether as taxpayers or consumers. This is necessary so as to bring fuller pricing transparency to the impact of various consumer goods on the environment. There is now widespread acceptance that the "throwaway society" is not sustainable. I am confident that Irish householders, consumers and businesses will accept their responsibilities in this regard.

We need a major conversion of public attitudes and behaviour to the need for waste prevention. We need also a significant increase in recycling performance, accompanied and supported by an expansion and improvement of waste management facilities. Finally, there is scope for significant development of the private waste sector and for a more systematic application of the principles of shared responsibility, producer responsibility and the polluter-pays.

This Bill is comprehensive and in many respects radical legislation which will support all of these objectives. I heartily commend it to the House.

I welcome the Waste Bill the Minister has introduced. It demonstrates how lax we have been that such a measure has only just been brought before the House.

I take issue with the Minister's statement that this is radical legislation which will support the objectives to which he referred. The Bill is a minimalist measure with a number of flaws, not least of which is that it has been produced in isolation from many other connected policy areas. For that reason, the Bill is disappointing.

Key issues such as waste reduction, incineration and agricultural waste are either side-stepped or ignored in the Bill, which contains a list of duties which may be conferred by ministerial fiat on subsidiary agencies. There was not any indication in the Minister's speech, to which I listened carefully, from where the money or the personnel required to implement all of the responsibilities placed on local authorities and on the Environmental Protection Agency would come. The Bill confers a massive body of powers on the Minister but it burdens him very little with the responsibility for implementing them. This legislation will not pass the test of time.

We should not be surprised or offended that the head of the United Nations working party on the development of sustainable products, Dr. Van Weenen, in an article inThe Irish Times on 12 June, should describe the Bill as “already obsolete even before it is enacted”. Dr. Van Weenen, noting that the Bill focused almost entirely on waste management, went on to say: “It would be much more important to develop a waste prevention plan at every level and to look at landfill dumping as a last resort”. The Minister indicated in his speech that is the direction in which he will go, but this Bill does not go in the right direction.

One of the most important recent contributions to environmental policy was the recycling initiative introduced last year. "Recycling for Ireland" was published last year and the Bill builds on that initiative. However, we have not had a proper waste policy here and that this Bill provides a general framework from which we might begin to address an increasingly serious problem must be welcomed.

As the Minister has indicated, waste is the most visible symptom of an environmental malaise that has marked this century. That malaise is manifested in a refusal to take responsibility for our actions as individuals. Consumption, without heed to the cost, has characterised modern life — the Minister referred to the throwaway society. In the past, if rain forests or other natural environments had to be destroyed, the approach was, "so what?".

Rising concern for the environment has yet to be matched by personal choices. We are all concerned about the environment but that concern is not reflected in our choices. In a society geared towards capturing the market for each consumer, it is eventually the consumer who must exercise the most meaningful choices in relation to the environment. The Bill is not sufficiently strong in pushing that approach and the omission to challenge the choices of consumers is a fundamental mistake.

The Bill has some shortcomings. The production and reduction of waste is almost entirely ignored. Agricultural waste is not deemed worthy of consideration, except for a reference to the possibility of it being examined by other authorities. The question of landfill is addressed in a minimalist way and the cost of the measures referred to could make it unworkable.

Costs and bureaucracy will be increased by the Bill. I do not hold the Minister directly responsible for a problem that has beset this House for many years, that is the problem created by undemocratically conferring powers on Ministers and on Departments. Producing a Bill such as this and saying the various detailed regulations in it will be introduced later is essentially undemocratic.

We intend to make a vigorous contribution to this debate on Committee Stage, which I presume will take place during the summer months. We will try to address some of the Bill's shortcomings and I hope the Minister will be open to the sensible suggestions we will make, as he has been in the past. We intend to be constructive in our approach to the Bill.

There has not been any effort to focus Government policies as a whole on the environment. The Government's environmental policy, insofar as it has one, is pervaded by the dangerous assumption by many Ministers that environmental policy can be left to the Department of the Environment. Having listened to the Minister for the Environment during meetings of the Committee on Sustainable Development and during Question Time in the House, he has singularly failed so far to convince most of his colleagues that the Government's approach to the environment should pervade all policies and should not be confined to the Department of the Environment.

The Bill is based on the dangerously outdated notion that the environment is a particular niche area. Government policy does not address the simple truth that waste is already second generation pollution. It has not begun to dawn on the Government that a meaningful environment policy should be an essential component of all policy areas. The Government's programme commits itself to "integrating environmental protection considerations into all policy areas and all levels of Government". It further states: "Major institutional reform and policy and legislative changes will have to take place". There is not anything in this Bill to indicate they were nothing more than empty statements.

If a waste policy is to be meaningful, it must have at its core the co-ordination of industrial, agricultural and other policies. There is no evidence of co-ordination in the Bill in relation to industry and agriculture seems to be almost specifically excluded.

Continued economic growth means we are producing and consuming more goods and materials but there is an obvious downside to our increased consumption. Pollution has already occurred in primary production. Natural resources have been used, energies have been expended and emissions have occurred. In the disposal of waste we are again challenged by these problems. Ireland now generates approximately one-third more domestic and commercial waste than it did a decade ago. As a nation we cannot sustain that level of growth. We have a simple choice: either to curb or change production and the Bill almost ignores that central issue.

Reducing waste means attacking the fundamentals of present production methods and involves a comprehensive co-ordination of wide swathes of Government policy. Regrettably, the Minister has shied away from the issue of the production of waste and, until he deals comprehensively with the issue of waste reduction, other measures are only tinkering with the edges of the problem. We should view our waste problem in a European context. Much of this Bill is devoted to translating European directives into Irish law. The standards against which we must necessarily measure ourselves are the European norm and that will decide the acceptability of our goods and services and how well we handle our waste problem. Nobody should be under any illusions: by European standards the Bill is minimalist. The standards it proposes will be no more than an interim staging point on the way to European averages. Realistic and long term progress will not be realised by the measures brought forward by this Government. We are only postponing a fundamental review of all our methods of production. It is a measure of the mountain we must climb, that this Bill is seen as a measure of progress.

It is proposed in the Bill to reduce the amount of waste going into landfill by 20 per cent over the next four years. This commitment arises from the European Union landfill directive of 1994. To put this proposal into the European context — in which the issue will be judged — the costs imposed by the EU landfill directive of 1994 offer a vital insight to the relative positions of EU member states. According to a report prepared last year for European Union environment ministers, the Netherlands would incur no significant increases in landfill costs as a result of the directive. Its national regulations are already in conformity with or stricter than the EU directive and the same applies to a lesser extent to France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark and Germany. However, for Ireland, the southern European countries such as Italy and Portugal, there will be significant costs.

The Minister proposes or implies he will do a number of things simultaneously as a result of the Bill. First, he will reduce the amount of waste going into landfill by 20 per cent; second, he proposes to reduce during the next five to ten years the present mix of some 120 public and private operational sites to approximately 50, but he fails to address the background of escalating levels of waste.

He further fails to address the important political issue of where the 50 new super dumps will be located. As the Minister knows, people find dumps objectionable for a number of reasons, not least of which is bad management by local authorities. Nothing in the proposals of the Bill will do anything to improve the resources available to local authorities to properly manage their dumps. If the Minister's proposals are to be credible, they should be fleshed out and their financing set out.

Will the Minister specify how he intends to reach the minimum target of a 20 per cent reduction in the amount of waste going into landfill against the background of escalating volumes of waste? How will local authorities get hold of the resources and expertise needed to ensure higher standards of management of landfill sites? Nothing the Minister said provides answers to these questions. It is proposed that a theoretical 80 per cent of our waste will go into less than half the current number of landfill sites and that simply does not seem possible. I agree with the Minister's efforts to reduce waste by 20 per cent or more. It is minimalist.

I think the Minister will agree that in the European context our efforts to curtail landfill are derisory. In Denmark in 1993 only 26 per cent of total waste was being disposed of by landfill; 23 per cent was being incinerated and 50 per cent recycled. The situation in Denmark shows the distance we have to go and what is possible, if there is the will. Our European neighbours have learned to put only the lowest types and least amount of waste into landfill which is grossly wasteful of resources. The extent of landfill dumping here is a mark of a profligate society. We not only waste what we have, we also pawn future resources by incurring future costs because of the long term consequences of landfill. This approach is the antithesis of sustainable development.

In addition, we are missing out on the great opportunities to be gained from doing the right thing, particularly on the jobs front. For example, a few years ago the chemical and pharmaceutical industry was regarded as an international enemy of the environment. Although there are still patches where the performance of the industry is less than perfect, the leaders of the industry, some of whom are represented in Ireland, have emphasised reducing waste to a very successful degree. They have succeeded in reducing waste, making their operations more sustainable and saving money in many instances. With new technology it is not costing them money to reduce waste. The savings created in an area like this make it less likely that the company has to look to staff cuts to effect savings.

The Minister said radical legislation is needed, in fact, at this stage we need a revolution but, unfortunately, there are not many revolutionaries in the Labour Party. Managing a problem is different from solving it. In the Waste Bill the Minister instead of taking a revolutionary approach has settled for measures similar to moving the deck chairs on theTitanic.

What does the Deputy propose we should do?

As I am always willing to be positive, I will come to that later. There are no provisions in the Bill to deal with the problems arising from contaminated land. Perhaps if we had succeeded together we would have been sitting on the same side and I would been able able to prompt the Minister before the Bill was produced.

We approved the heads of the Bill together.

Most of the dumps the Minister proposes to close come under the category of contaminated sites. If future problems with land use are to be avoided, it is necessary to register and clean up contaminated sites. The safety of ground water, surrounding natural environment and the land itself depends on properly regulated approach to closure. The omission of appropriate regulations is of grave concern, but I presume the Minister will be introducing them at a later stage under the Bill.

The Minister has chosen to ignore the question of incineration, and I can understand why. It has the potential to be politically difficult and that potential difficulty has overtaken environmental concerns. The technology of incineration has a bad name in Ireland and it has raised many serious concerns, not without reason, in view of some of the incineration operations we have had. However, we cannot ignore the issue. The Minister has drawn back from introducing a comprehensive waste reduction policy whereas the Bill proposes a reduction in the amount of waste going into landfill which is significant by Irish standards and rules out any involvement in incineration either by encouraging it or encouraging research into it. One has to ask what it is the Government hopes for, and it appears the Government is hoping that private incinerators will be built to take up the slack, thus reducing direct political flak. There is a contradiction between the avoidance of reductionism as a serious policy option and the refusal to promote alternative methods of disposal. This confusion in policy indicates that there is in fact no policy.

The disposal of waste in whatever manner is an important issue to be addressed. It involves a huge economic and environmental downside. Landfill is one of the most seriously abusive methods of disposal and the serious arguments against incineration revolve around the emission of dangerous gases. However, there have been advances in technology, for example, in Sweden where a number of new technologies and measures have been introduced over the past ten years which have led to significant reductions in the amount of dioxin emissions. One plant in Hogdalen in Stockholm has five new gas treatment systems. The plant's emission levels comply with the allowable levels laid down by the Government and it also makes a very appreciable contribution to energy needs. The Minister's stance on incineration is disingenuous. On the one hand he is washing his hands of a politically problematic process and on the other, by failing to provide an alternative, he is effectively encouraging it by the back door. There is a dichotomy there that should be explained.

As a former Minister for Health, Deputy Howlin must be particularly aware of the problem that faces hospitals. Approximately 50 hospital incinerators will close by October because they will not have the resources to run them to a proper standard. Hospital waste is highly dangerous and needs to be treated very carefully, and new methods of disposing of it will have to be carefully examined. Microwaving is a process that has been introduced here in the recent past.

I introduced it myself in Cork.

There are probably seven places here that are now using it. To the best of my knowledge there are only three places using it in France where it was developed. That must leave some question marks over the technology. On the question of incineration, we should be ruling it out completely or examining it as a possibility and at least carrying out research into it. We cannot continue to ignore it as it has been ignored.

The question of hazardous waste is dealt with in section 36 (2) of the Bill which includes a list of provisions from (a) to (q) which the Minister may enforce to control the movement of hazardous waste. Entirely ignored is the imperative of self-sufficiency in hazardous waste disposal, again a tricky political question. In 1990 we produced 66,000 tonnes of hazardous waste, 21 per cent of which was exported for disposal abroad. The experience in other EU countries has been that when tighter regulations for disposal are implemented the amount of waste exported to countries with less strict regulations increases significantly. We must address the major issue of disposing of our own hazardous waste because we will not be allowed to continue to dump such waste in other countries for the foreseeable future. This brings us back to the question of eliminating or minimising that type of waste which should be the cornerstone of environmental protection policy on waste.

One of the most conspicuous omissions from the Bill is that of agricultural waste. It will be left to local authorities to introduce their own by-laws. However, given the impact of agricultural waste on our environment it was an amazing oversight not to make regulatory provision, even within a framework Bill like this, for the disposal of farm waste. Agricultural waste is a huge component of our total waste and the number of outlets far exceeds any other form of waste production. Animal effluent and silage effluent are deadly, and in the past few weeks we have witnessed quite a number of examples of that. Recently the South Western Fisheries Board warned that we are sitting on an environmental time bomb and the cause of that could be farm waste. The rivers affected in the recent past could take up to five years to recover ecologically at a cost of over £100,000. This is a very important area of waste control and waste minimisation which demonstrates one of the contradictions at the heart of Government environment policy. On the one hand the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry has closed down the control of farm pollution scheme, bringing to a standstill progress on necessary environmental works which would improve and introduce the best practice in waste management and further endangering the £300 million in EU funds for the rural environmental protection scheme.

The contribution of these two schemes over their intended short lifespan could be profound. Government Departments are pulling in opposite directions. The Minister for the Environment is committed to ensuring a safe and clean environment. However, in the Seanad recently the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry, speaking to a Fianna Fáil motion on farm pollution, said he intended to write to local authorities and fishery boards asking them to adopt a more sensitive approach to farmers served with section 12 notices. These notices are a measure of last resort served by local authorities on those who pollute the environment. It is only after all other measures have failed that section 12 notices are served. The Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry asked the authorities to be less strict in their approach. He is pressurising them into adopting a softly, softly approach to those whose farms are most likely to be a source of pollution. I do not understand the logic behind that especially since the Minister for the Environment is pressing ahead with the £1.2 billion programme of end of pipe treatment works.

Environmental protection and control is often perceived by industry as a threat to competitiveness and jobs. However, that argument is more than counter-balanced by the opportunities that exist for the development of environmental protection services and the production of green products which will meet the needs of the rapidly growing green consumer market. Most of the technology needed to reduce, recycle and dispose of waste will come from outside of Ireland. Jobs will be created in countries producing environmental protection technology whereas Ireland will only incur costs. I congratulate the trade board which recently set up an environmental unit to promote Irish firms providing environmental protection products and services overseas. Other agencies have little in the way of programmes to ensure that Ireland grasps the opportunities that abound. It is clear that the Government does not have an integrated environmental policy — it must adopt one soon — when this Bill is introduced in isolation from its effects, costs and opportunities. The Departments of Tourism and Trade, Enterprise and Employment and the Environment must work together to ensure we minimise costs and maximise opportunities. Environmental policy will give rise to an environmental protection sector as happened in other countries and this will cover numerous new activities and technologies.

In the United States, a document, Towards a National Export Strategy, estimates that the current market for the environmental services industry is £252 billion and it is projected that it will reach £400 billion by the year 2000, growing at an annual rate of 6.7 per cent. The US has 19 agencies helping export companies to compete for environmental markets. The OECD estimates the figure at £200 billion for the year 2000, 30 per cent of which is concerned with water and effluent treatments. In Germany, the number of people employed in the environmental sector is 700,000. The number of jobs in Ireland depending on a clean, green environment is in excess of 150,000. That is why it is important for the Government to have an integrated policy and that the opportunities are identified.

The Bill notes the importance of the public sector leading by example through the use of best environmental management practice. Will the Minister explain how this will be achieved? Will he, as we suggest, encourage local authorities and public sector bodies to seek accreditation under the Irish IS 310 or international standard ISO 9000 or ISO 14000? The agencies implementing this Bill should attain accreditation to a recognised environmental management system standard. There is no point in preaching to industry or individuals if they do not comply with recognised independent standards. Work carried out in the area of environmental management within local authorities in other countries has resulted in considerable cost savings. Local authorities are often serious polluters. The Government should ensure that Departments and agencies purchase recycled goods where possible and recycle waste. We look forward to the public sector guidelines and criteria the Minister will publish under section 30. He should do that as a matter of urgency.

Our legislation enforcement record is poor. This Bill is largely enabling legislation with little substance. The best example of non-enforcement of legislation is the Litter Act, 1992. Bord Fáilte claims it receives 5,000 letters per year from visitors complaining about illegal dumping of old cars and appliances. Over half of all the letters received concern litter. The "war" against litter is at a standstill and local authorities seem to have retreated. Some 21 county councils failed to record a single on-the-spot fine and ten did not achieve court convictions, 45 borough corporations or UDCs failed to record an on-the-spot fine or achieve court convictions. Only 914 on-the-spot fines and 226 court convictions were achieved nationwide and the 89 litter wardens, working full-time and part-time, were responsible for the majority of those.

I do not wish to down Limerick but it failed to record a single on-the-spot fine or achieve a court conviction during the year. To the great credit of Limerick Corporation and county council, Limerick has developed in leaps and bounds over the past eight to ten years but I do not think it could be said that its streets are free of litter. Many local authorities have the same problem.

In its recent report the Environmental Protection Agency pointed out that the national budget for environmental research in 1993 was £91 million and that only 2 per cent of this came from the Government. If we want to be taken seriously in terms of care and protection of the environment then the funding provided by Government for environmental research must be increased. Tackling the problems associated with waste will cost money and I ask the Minister to give me an estimate — I know he cannot give me an exact figure — of the cost of implementing the provisions of the Bill. Local authorities which are seriously under-funded and the Environmental Protection Agency which already has heavy burdens will be further burdened by the costs created by the Bill. I ask the Minister to give me a guarantee that the agency will be properly funded, otherwise it will be brought into disrepute. More than anything else, an independent body like the Environmental Protection Agency must have the full confidence of the public.

Ireland is at the bottom of the pile in terms of waste management and reduction and we cannot continue to depend on landfills. To give an indication of the magnitude and urgency of the problem, the proposed municipal dump at Kill, County Kildare is estimated to have a lifespan of only ten years. We are near the end of the road in terms of landfill sites not only because of a lack of available spaces but also because of the opposition to this type of dump. We must address the problem of the production of waste in the first instance. Waste issues and their resolution are inevitably linked to production and consumption throughout all stages of the life cycle of materials and the use of energy and unless the production cycle is included in an integrated waste policy little meaningful progress can be made. Reducing waste at source not only minimises the impact of waste treatment and disposal but also enhances the efficient use of raw materials. The proposals to be brought forward by the industry will be of vital importance in this regard.

The single greatest challenge facing our political leadership is changing consumer preference. People may be concerned about the environment but they continue to choose products wrapped in layers of non-biodegradable plastic, which are carried home in free plastic bags. This problem needs to be addressed in a detailed and meaningful way. The Minister and the House must try to change the public's attitude and I ask the Minister to outline how he proposes to educate all of us on how to reduce waste. Fianna Fáil supports the principle of the Bill and will not oppose it on Second Stage. However, we will debate it in detail on Committee Stage and put forward amendments which will improve it.

My party warmly welcomes this long overdue and comprehensive Bill. All of the thinking behind it is correct and it has the potential to be exciting and effective legislation. However, as it is currently drafted the Bill is weak and essentially flawed in that many of its provisions will be implemented by way of later regulations. This approach fails to take into account the urgency of the problems of waste and our attitude to it. On Committee Stage my party will put down very strong amendments which will seek to replace the term "the Minister may" with the term "the Minister shall" or "the Minister must". When it comes to putting in place modern waste legislation we are far behind other European countries and some of our competitors and we will have to run twice as fast if we want to make up the shortfall and be in a position to compete on economic and other fronts.

There are many good and compelling reasons for attaching the highest possible priority to environmental protection. The economic arguments were well put by Culliton in his landmark report Industrial Policy for Ireland in the 1990s. In his introduction to that report he says:

Far from dragging our heels in the international movement for environmental protection it could be in Ireland's best interest even from the industrial standpoint to seek out opportunities for advancing ahead of other countries in the interest of promoting our clean green image and in positioning Irish industry for coping with even tougher legislation in the face of what seems to be an unstoppable trend.

He then went on to say — Deputy Dempsey also made this point — that the development and application of environmentally friendly technologies and products offer notable opportunities for job creation. In other words, environmental protection is no longer a matter of choice or an optional extra to be left to a discerning section of the public but is a matter of survival. By facing up to this and putting in place and maintaining the highest possible environmental standards Ireland will not alone create new jobs but also maintain existing jobs.

In one way or another all our industries depend on a clean environment. For example, the food industry is worth £9 billion annually to the economy with approximately 40,000 jobs. This industry, with its enormous potential for growth in the export market, is totally dependent on the quality of our environment. Simply put, given the choice that the free market now provides consumers will elect to buy Irish food products only if they can be guaranteed that they are produced in a clean environment.

Tourism is another environment dependent industry and a key industry in the generation of jobs. In current terms it is worth £1.7 billion annually to the economy and provides approximately 91,000 jobs. The target by the end of the century, which is only five years away, is for earnings of £2.5 billion with 126,000 jobs. These targets will only be met if in the next five years we manage to make a reality of the image of a clean green Ireland. At times and in places this image has a little of the smell of the leprechaun with the pot of gold about it and is sometimes at variance with the reality. If these figures and the target in tourism are to be met by the end of the decade this clean green image must be a reality and put beyond question.

It is crucially important for a country that has more than 300,000 people out of work and more young people and young graduates coming on the jobs market every year to advance and maintain the highest attainable environmental standards at every level if we are to provide jobs. If we fail to do that we do so at our peril. This is the message that must be put across every day. It is in the interest of every family to play its part in bringing about a cleaner and better environment.

To date Irish law in relation to solid waste concerned itself mainly with controls on waste disposal. There has been a hefty reliance on the end of the pipeline solution as if there were no tomorrow. We create more waste in the belief that someone will take that waste and put it somewhere away from where we live and operate and that it will disappear underground. That is not the way things happen or will happen in the future. There has been far too much reliance in this country on landfilling. We landfill one tonne of waste per family per year. This figures is unsustainable and is much higher than the proportion of waste landfilled in any other European country. We cannot continue to do that and to expect other people to cope with our waste.

We must take control and ownership of our own waste. When we are required to do that I believe our attitudes will alter. It is only when we are required to take more responsibility for our waste that we will think in terms of waste prevention as individuals in society. That is what happened yesterday.

This new Waste Bill gives ground for optimism because it proposes an altogether different approach and points in a different direction. The main emphasis is not on control and waste disposal but on waste management. The Bill provides a framework for waste prevention, reduction, minimisation, recovery and recycling. The overall aim is to dispose of only the residue when all these processes have been fully exploited and exhausted. This is the only way forward. However, it will take some effort to change people's attitudes, to break bad habits and to radically revise our former approach but it must be done. There must be a national consensus that there is no other way. Citizens, householders, industries and commercial enterprises have a role to play and must be challenged and motivated to play it. Governments must give leadership and there must be greater cohesion between Government Departments; I do not mean at the level of statements written into programmes for Government but at the level of action and delivery on the ground.

The public are not likely to be convinced when the Minister for the Environment says one thing and his Cabinet colleagues often do the opposite. This happened recently in the case of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry who suspended the farm pollution grants despite the fact that some of our most serious pollution with the greatest threat to our rivers, streams and lakes comes from farm slurry and fertilisers. If there is any one sector on which the most rigid and stringent controls must be in place it is the agriculture sector. I understand and fully accept that it was a costly system. Nevertheless, if our environment is to have priority the Minister will have to revisit that decision and his approach will have to be brought into line with that of the Minister for the Environment, otherwise the Government will lack credibility which means we are in a very weak position to make demands of other people. There must be much better co-ordination and coherence between different Government Departments and an overall determination on the part of the Government to give leadership in the field of waste prevention.

I raised an issue in this respect with the Minister on Question Time recently. I pointed out that it has become a habit in every Government Department in recent times to relentlessly issue press releases, statements, PR work of every kind and to literally overwhelm our pigeon holes and offices with paper, much of which we do not have time to read. I fiercely resent when most days I take out my car in my own city and a commercial operator puts a handbill on my windscreen informing me that because I am not attending the night club down the road I am only half living. I fiercely resent being told that because, mercifully, I am living fully without attending that night club.

We do not know.

I am entitled to park my car in the city street as I have already displayed a parking disc and paid for it. I resent some sharp operator, exploiting youngsters by giving them a few bob to litter a whole street with handbills about the activities of their night club and I would do much to stop it. On occasion I have taken such handbills and handed them back. If I am entitled to do that to some poor youngsters in the streets of Cork, who are trying to make a few bob, I am equally entitled to do the same to the Minister. In future I will ask that the Minister has a bring back basket so that Deputies can return to him most of the documents issued from Government Departments which serve no useful purpose, which we do not have time to read and which do not add to our sense of understanding of what is happening in this House. If the Minister were to create the conditions where that material could be returned he would give a headline and would put himself in a strong moral position to expect shopkeepers and traders to make similar provision in their premises. Such a significant gesture would put him in a strong position to make demands of other bodies and create the atmosphere for the implementation and enforcement of this Bill.

We are producing far too much paper. My letterbox is filled with paper every day. Most of it I do not read and it goes into the basket and, subsequently, the bin. For the most part it is dumped in landfill sites. We cannot continue along that road. We must start cutting back on the volume of paper we produce sector by sector, shop by shop, Government Department by Government Department.

The Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Food has suspended the farm pollution grants scheme. I appeal to the Minister for the Environment to seek its reintroduction. After our children, our clean water in rivers, lakes and streams is one of our most valuable assets. We cannot treat it in this cavalier way. In the past three weeks there were significant fish kills in my county in which there are three rivers in which all ecological life is dead. That will be the position for at least the next five years. A generation of small boys will grow up without having an opportunity to fish their local stream. When they come to do their leaving certificate they will not have time to fish——

Small girls also fish.

This is an indication of what can happen when all ecological life in a stream is killed off and this remains the position for a minimum of five years. We must reintroduce the grants scheme, while Teagasc and the other agencies which have done so much good work in the past must intensify their efforts to bring the agriculture sector into line in terms of the aspirations and objectives of this Bill so that we all march to the same tune. That is very important.

The Minister mentioned that litter is not covered by this Bill. There may be sustainable reasons why it is not covered.

A separate Bill is to be introduced.

Nonetheless the volume of litter on our streets is an enormous indictment of society. It indicates an attitude of mind and unless it is tackled and reversed we will go nowhere with the new Bill. The attitude that it is our waste but other people can cope with it is a symptom of the malaise to which Deputy Dempsey referred in great detail.

I urge the Minister, even in advance of the enactment of this major Bill, to introduce the new legislation without delay, providing for a system of incentives on the one hand and penalties on the other — the carrot and stick approach — to get rid of the scourge of litter. Very often it is the first thing seen by prospective investors, brought to this country by the IDA with a view to setting up a job generating industry. They do not see the toxic waste that is more serious and damaging but they do see the litter. This can prove damaging and be a factor in convincing them that they should consider locating elsewhere where the workforce takes a different approach to life. This matter which is of crucial importance cannot be put on the long finger. I implore the Minister to tackle it now.

If the provisions of this Bill are to be effective, education has a key role to play. When education works well it is amazing what it can achieve. About two weeks ago a party of 59 school children from a primary convent school in Ballyphehane in Cork visited Leinster House. I took them to the self-service restaurant for a can of Coca Cola while the teachers and I sat down to have a pot of tea. When they had finished two of the little girls asked the head teacher if they should take the empty cans home with them. This is an indication that they were well motivated and attentive to their responsibilities. We must encourage young people to adopt this outlook. In turn, they may be able to influence older people to do the same. The media has to be used if we are to educate the public about their responsibilities so far as this Bill is concerned.

This is a solid waste Bill and comes in the wake of legislation already enacted covering water and air pollution. There is a need to integrate all this environmental legislation. Let me give an example of what may happen if this is not done. If solid waste is converted into liquid or gas will it be exempt from the provisions of this Bill? I may table an amendment on this issue on Committee Stage. If that was to be the case it would discourage waste minimisation, one of the key objectives of the Bill. The two existing Acts, the Water Pollution Act and the Air Pollution Act, and this Bill ought to be integrated. We already have integrated pollution controls. If we are to make progress we should also have integrated environmental legislation.

The thinking behind this Bill is excellent. As it currently stands, however, it lacks clarity and certainty on a number of fronts. We need to have a clear definition of what constitutes waste. The term "residue" is used extensively in the Schedules, yet it is not defined anywhere in the Bill. This Bill must distinguish more clearly between residues destined for recycling, recovery and reuse on the one hand and those destined for final disposal on the other. I argue that only residues destined for final disposal should be defined as waste. If an economic use can be found for a residue it ought to be subject to a different set of controls in respect of holding, transport and treatment. I intend to revisit this area on Committee Stage.

The Bill lacks clarity and certainty. It is peppered with phrases such as "the Minister may" or for example, on page 36, "producer responsibility may include..." If the Bill is to be effective we have to be clear on what producer responsibility "must" include. It goes on to state that the carrying out of waste audits by businesses may be introduced. They must be introduced. It also states that provision of data to the Environmental Protection Agency for publication regarding the use, consumption and emission of specified toxic substances by an industry may be introduced. Legislation must be made of sterner stuff. If the Minister is truly serious about achieving the stated objectives of this Bill, most of these "mays" will have to be converted into "musts". When the Bill is amended it should read "the Minister shall" or "the Act will". If we include provisions with "may" we will have a fine aspirational document which will not be effective.

It is important that that matter be considered because if proper advance planning is to take place by industry and commercial activities they will need to know from the start what exactly is demanded of them, not what will probably be demanded of them next year or the year after. Unless everybody involved knows the position from the outset it is unlikely they will carry out the advance planning that will ensure this Bill works.

Key questions asked by overseas investors who wish to explore Ireland as a possible location for industry are: what is the nature of the environmental legislation and is it on a par with the environmental legislation in other competitive countries? They need to know what our legislation is, not what it might be in three, five or ten years' time. We must be specific from the outset with this legislation.

Another area that lacks clarity to an alarming degree is the overall cost of implementation of the Bill in so far as it will be levied on different sectors. There are several references to costs in the Bill but they are mere references. The Minister fails to spell out in detail the cost on any sector, and this is a second major weakness in the Bill. Inevitably there will be a significant cost on industry. Several sections require licensed applicants to cover the cost of the application and of assessing their licence application. That will be a significant cost. We must demonstrate to industry that the benefits will far outweigh the costs, but how can we do so if we are not prepared to spell out the costs in the first instance? That must be done on Committee Stage.

There will be a significant cost on local authorities if they are to comply with the provisions of the Bill. There is a clear onus on the Minister to bring forward a proper system of financing for cash-starved local authorities in advance of enactment of this Bill. Unless that is done local authorities will put forward the argument that they do not have the money, they cannot raise it from its own resources and ratepayers, who will carry an additional burden as a result of the Bill, cannot afford it. Unless the Minister introduces such a system this Bill will fail.

I am concerned that while local authorities are required to provide facilities for the disposal of household waste there is no responsibility on them to provide facilities for the disposal of commercial and hazardous waste. This requirement should be extended to the collection of waste from commercial premises where the composition of waste is similar to the composition of household waste. Such a provision must be incorporated in the Bill.

The establishment of waste management plans under section 32 is vague. The idea is good but is underdeveloped. There must be a determination to spell out more clearly what should be contained in those plans. Many local authorities are progressive and adventurous while others take the line of least resistance. On the basis of that experience we must set out clearly what the management plans must contain and we must set a timeframe for the achievement of the targets in those plans.

Section 36 which deals with hazardous waste states that the Environmental Protection Agency will be required to make recommendations, but it is imperative that the Environmental Protection Agency be required to issue directions rather than make recommendations in respect of management plans, particularly the management of hazardous waste.

A number of people have spoken to me about the cost of implementation of the Bill as it affects their industries. Small and medium sized industries in particular are concerned that a hefty burden may be put on them. The Minister should indicate that every possible assistance will be given by way of advice and that every feasible and affordable incentive will be provided to help smaller industries. It would be a great tragedy if some industries felt they could not comply with the Bill or that the Bill was too bureaucratic and demanding in terms of form filling, the provision of information and so on.

It is important that we utilise fully groups such as the clean technology department of the regional college in Cork. That department played a key role in providing assistance to the chemical industry in Cork and as a result that industry was well prepared to comply with the requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency and the integrated licence. It is invaluable that such a group be in a position to provide expert advice to industries. We must develop that idea. Industries must be encouraged in the most practical way possible and must be given advice and technical help.

I read section 51 on a number of occasions — I tabled a question to the Minister on this matter — and I am unclear as to why agricultural wastes are excluded from the licensing requirements. That is a major weakness in the Bill for the reasons outlined by me and, more eloquently, by the previous speaker. It poses a threat particularly to the quality of water, and this is part of the problem that arises where there is a separate Water Pollution Act. I can see the rationale for consolidating these Acts. If the disposal of blood, sludge and agricultural waste is excluded from the stringent requirements on industry, that will be a major weakness in the Bill and must be guarded against.

The Bill is the basis of good legislation. There is ample scope for amendment on Committee Stage. I am sure the Minister will be open to accepting reasonable amendments and I expect he will table some on the basis of the debate. I hope there will be a number of varied contributions to the debate so that we will get different perspectives on this issue. All Members are prepared to play a key part in putting in place legislation that will serve the country well not only in the next five years, but in the next 15 years.

It is important that resources are provided for research. Independent researchers should play a key role not only in providing policy makers with the best available up-to-date information, but in educating the general public on whose co-operation we rely if this Bill is to be effective.

Additional resources must be made available for research and for the Environmental Protection Agency. Our hopes rightly hinge on the Environmental Protection Agency because it has at its disposal up to date legislation that will stand up in any European country. It is grossly under-resourced and when this Bill becomes law it will need infinitely more resources which must be provided. We do not want law which will not be fully enforced because that draws all law into disrepute. When we enact law we must ensure that the necessary procedures and provisions are in place to facilitate the implementation of all its aspects.

The attitude to waste is worrying, but people acknowledge that we can no longer adopt a spendthrift attitude and there is a willingness to change tack and put better procedures in place. Women in my estate would be willing to segregate their waste if there was provision for it. Women no longer want plastic bags foisted on them in supermarkets because they know the damage to the environment by the over use of plastic bags. Women make up the majority of shoppers and they would welcome new procedures to minimise waste. They know there is no other way forward. People who holiday abroad or who have lived abroad and see how effective are alternative systems are willing to change old bad habits. We must not be afraid to challenge and motivate them to do that.

The Minister should indicate his willingness to set a headline and give a good example. He should ban some products including aerosol cans. If he did that people would accept his seriousness about dealing with waste and would be more inclined to co-operate and be part of an environmental forward movement. He should also ban the use of detergents containing phosphates. That could be done quite easily. In Henkel in Little Island in Cork phosphate free detergents are produced. Forty per cent of detergents in use at present are phosphate free, but detergents containing phosphates are a major element in destroying our waters. Banning three or four key products like that would create the conditions in which there would be real compliance with the provisions of the Bill. The enactment of this Bill and the implementation of its provisions is no longer a matter of choice, but one of survival.

I welcome the Bill and my party and I will support it. We will table a number of key amendments on Committee Stage. We hope the Bill will be passed speedily so that we can set about its implementation.

I welcome the Bill and congratulate the Minister on introducing it. Its provisions and, perhaps, the many positive amendments that will be tabled by the Opposition will lead to a new era of improved, more economical and successful waste management.

I thank Deputies who spoke on this important Bill. I regard it as one of the most important Bills I will have the pleasure of bringing before the House and I look forward to a long and detailed debate on Committee Stage. This is a framework Bill. Like the earlier Environmental Protection Agency Act this is an enabling Bill which allows the Minister to bring forward a number of specific proposals by regulation after its enactment. I know comments have been made regarding Bills such as this, that it is better to have as much detail as possible formalised in legislation rather than granting powers to a Minister to bring forward regulations by statutory instrument. This Bill is quite complicated and the detail required will necessitate consultation with a broad range of sectoral interests. It would be appropriate to have the views and the will of the House expressed in primary legislation before the enactment of regulations which will have to be placed before both Houses of the Oireachtas in due course.

I thank the two parties in Opposition and Deputy Ahearn for the broad welcome for the measures proposed.

Regarding the structure of the Bill, it is not true to suggest it is stand alone legislation. I was involved in negotiating the Programme for Government and, as a member of the previous Government, I was aware of the genesis of this measure. It dovetails into a sequence of legislative provisions, the Environmental Protection Agency Act and the integrated licensing system flowing from that which is incrementally expanding to encompass more elements of our society. It dovetails into the Air Pollution Act and other environmental legislation. Therefore, it is not true to say it stands alone. It is also part of the Government's integrated sustainable development strategy. Sustainability is a key objective of the Government and it will be driven not alone by the Department of the Environment but by a Cabinet subcommittee which will include all the major players involved in controlling pollution, including the Departments of Enterprise and Employment, Transport, Energy and Communications, Agriculture, Food and Forestry and Tourism and Trade. Those Departments will be involved in ensuring that we adopt a co-ordinated approach to enhancing and maintaining our clean environment.

I disagree with Deputy Dempsey that we are at the bottom of the heap in terms of waste control. Many of our measures are leading the way. Last week I attended meetings with representatives of the pharmaceutical sector who told me that environmentalists from as far away as Japan come here to examine our integrated licensing systems. We should not be shy in stating what we are good at. We have a clean environment and a determined Government and population to ensure that is maintained and enhanced.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

I outlined the main thrust of the Bill in my Second Stage speech and I will be happy to deal with the points raised by Opposition Deputies on Committee Stage.

Question put and agreed to.