I move amendment No. 6b:
In page 31, subsection (1), line 19, after "scribed" to insert "and not later than one year".
I believe a time limit should be put in place.
Vol. 146 No. 17
I move amendment No. 6b:
In page 31, subsection (1), line 19, after "scribed" to insert "and not later than one year".
I believe a time limit should be put in place.
The Minister of State took Committee Stage on the last occasion and I am glad to take over from him. This is one of the most important environmental Bills to come before the Oireachtas; it is probably the most important environmental Bill I will steer through the Houses. I will have the opportunity on Committee Stage to make a number of general comments on background information and the thinking that informed the Bill.
We discussed this issue at length previously and I understand the wish of Senators to have clarity about the implementation of proposals. I worked for a long time on the Child Care Bill during its passage through the Oireachtas and it is understandable that Members are anxious to ensure that legislation is given effect within a reasonable time frame. It is my intention that all the provisions of this Bill will be implemented as speedily as possible. However, some of the provisions are extremely onerous and complicated.
This section envisages the development of a national hazardous waste management plan to be devised and published by the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency is a new body which has grown in responsibility. No later than yesterday I signed a new set of orders developing further the integrated licensing system and bringing further activities under EPC control. The development of a national hazardous waste management plan will be a demanding job for the agency. I have consulted at length with the agency and it is envisaged that it will take approximately 18 months subsequent to the enactment of this legislation to develop the plan. I have power under the Bill to determine a time frame and I ask the Senators not to write a time frame of 12 months into the Bill. That cannot be achieved. Independent consultants will be required to work on the development of the plan. The expertise available to the agency will also be involved. We have mapped out with great care the responsibilities that will be required and my best estimate is that it will take approximately 18 months.
I ask Senator Daly not to press the amendment and to accept my good faith in this matter. It is my intention to have it done as expeditiously as possible.
I appreciate the Minister's views. However, there does not appear to be any way in which we can exert pressure to have this done. What if the Minister is not in office in 18 months time and there is a slackening in the policy? The Minister is following a vigorous policy. Is there any mechanism whereby we can look at this matter later and ensure that it is being done?
I will not press the issue but I seek further clarity from the Minister. He is dynamic, influential and progressive and he will get things done.
Flattery will get the Senator everywhere.
However, if one of the Minister's colleagues succeeded to his Department, he or she might not be so dynamic.
I have no intention of moving this side of an election and, hopefully, after an election.
We shall not be moved.
One never knows who might occupy ministries after an election.
The plan is an important part of the overall package. I am happy the Senator accepts my good faith in this matter. It is my intention to prescribe a reasonable time frame by regulation. That will be done as soon as the Bill is enacted.
In view of the Minister's assurances, I withdraw the amendment.
I move amendment No. 7:
In page 31, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following new subparagraph:
"(b) the need to facilitate economic and social development.".
This amendment was put down by Senator Henry who, unfortunately, cannot be here today. The amendment appears to be in the wrong place, but Senator Henry was concerned that the management plan should take the issue of jobs into consideration. She was concerned that if it was limited it would be relieved of the responsibility to recognise the need to ensure that economic and social development are taken into account. If we are to create jobs we cannot wash our hands of the need to do this. This was Senator Henry's intention in putting down this amendment and perhaps the Minister will take it into account.
The amendment would require the Environmental Protection Agency to have regard to the need to facilitate economic and social development in the preparation of a national hazardous waste plan. I presume the intention is that this criterion would underline all planning and not only the waste plan which is relevant to section 26. This is not a stand alone Bill. It is complicated and detailed and we did not rewrite into it provisions which are extant in existing legislation.
This Bill should be seen as a dovetail into the progressive Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992. The overriding requirement of the Environmental Protection Agency is set out in some detail in that Act and under section 52 (2) the agency is required to have regard in all its planning to the matters which the amendment requires it to facilitate. Section 52 (2) (e) requires the agency to:
ensure, in so far as is practicable, that a proper balance is achieved between the need to protect the environment (and the cost of such protection) and the need for infrastructural, economic and social progress and development.
The requirement set out in the amendment is already met in the parent legislation which established the Environmental Protection Agency. It must have regard in all its deliberations to economic and social progress and development.
Will the principal Act supersede this Bill? That is my understanding from what the Minister said.
The Bill is designed to fit in with the existing corpus of legislation. The 1992 Act established the Environmental Protection Agency. There is also a Water Pollution Act and an Air Pollution Act. This Bill deals with solid waste. All of them knit together. There are provisions which are common to all but not repeated in each. It would be wasteful to repeat the provisions already the law of the land. To answer the Senator's question directly, there is a requirement on the agency to have regard to social and economic development in implementing any of the provisions of this Bill.
I cannot let this section go without referring to the work done by young people in recovering waste, especially the campaign to collect cans. Thousands of cans have been collected by young people. They must be complimented for this.
This is a drafting amendment to ensure consistency. Earlier in the section the words "support and assistance" are used but at the end there is reference only to "assistance".
One of the difficulties with regard to this amendment is that there is little by way of financial commitments or provisions in the Bill. While the Minister indicated that assistance will be provided, there is no definite figure set down or even a suggestion as to what will be the likely assistance. Will the Minister indicate what is envisaged by "assistance" in money terms and how it will be provided?
I also wanted to raise this point. Obligations are being imposed on local authorities and there is a cost involved in meeting them. Section 28 (1) states that:
For the purpose of promoting, supporting or facilitating the prevention or minimisation of waste, any Minister of the Government or a local authority may provide such support or assistance, including the provision of moneys. . . in relation to research and development. . .
While I do not oppose the amendment, there is a wider dimension which must be considered. In the famous example of Kill in County Kildare, when planning permission was granted by An Bord Pleanála, onerous obligations were put on the local authority in respect of emissions from and management of the dump and each of these created a cost. Dublin waste was to arrive at a dump in County Kildare but the local authority in that county had to meet the cost of managing the facility which arose from the disposal of this waste.
This is a serious problem and there are other sections which deal with similar aspects. The principle which applies in the case of the Environmental Protection Agency arises in section 28 (o) which refers to:
conferring on public authorities (including the Minister) and other specified persons specified additional functions for the purpose of securing or facilitating the operation of provisions of regulations under this section,
The best available technology dimension is also evident here. Does this mean that if the cost of obligations imposed on local authorities are high, they can invoke the best available technology clause and avoid having to do things which otherwise they might be required to do?
I hope the Minister will be generous towards local councils. Galway County Council has a waste management plan, due to the initiative of its manager and staff. This plan is for the period up to 2015. Much work and endeavour went into it and it was passed by the council. Implementing its proposals will have financial implications for the council and I appeal to the Minister to look as favourably as possible on councils which have taken the initiative to develop waste management plans. I commend the Minister for what he has done to date but I hope the finance which is crucial for the future will be available to follow up the literature, rules and regulations.
A number of important questions have been raised and I will cover them as best I can. I will give the philosophical overview of this issue. Waste disposal entails cost. Who carries the cost?
The principle in this legislation is the principle that underscores all environmental legislation in this country and in the European Union, that is, the polluter pays. The person who creates waste must bear the cost of disposing of it. It is no longer acceptable that people who create waste should leave it to someone else, including local authorities, to pay for it. The polluter pays principle will mean that the creators of waste will bear higher costs. Since the publication of this Bill I have made no secret of the fact that waste disposal in the future will be more onerous and expensive than it has been heretofore. Who will carry that cost? The creators of the waste — individuals, companies or organisations — will bear the cost which will be onerous.
We have introduced a hierarchy of principles. The first is waste minimisation so that we can reduce in volume terms the amount of waste to be disposed of. I have had discussions with a number of organisations, mainly IBEC, which has been proactive in addressing this issue in advance of any legislation being enacted. It has created a commercial company called REPAK with the objective of taking out of the waste cycle 120,000 tonnes of packaging waste annually within a five year time frame. It has put its own money into that process and it will achieve a reduction of up to 27 per cent of the total packaging waste to be taken out of the waste cycle within five years. That is a tripling of our current achievement and is a good start, but it is not the end of it. It shows that companies, individuals and organisations which create waste are taking a fresh look at how their operations work. I have had discussions with one company which said that a fundamental root and branch analysis of its waste had enabled it to cut waste volumes by 80 per cent. That is a staggering achievement.
The introduction of cost effective charges for waste disposal means that waste minimisation and recycling becomes more economically acceptable and viable. For all our good intentions, nothing drives change like costs. We are putting in place a waste régime which will encourage waste minimisation and recycling. When disposing of a volume of waste, a real cost must be met by the creators of the waste, not by the local or commercial authority which disposes of it. Those are the principles which guide it.
We have transposed the principle of BATNEEC — best available technology not exceeding excessive costs — into this Bill. We cannot introduce environmental requirements which are so economically oppressive that they would put people out of business. That is going too far. However, we will expect the best available technology to be used and there will be no avoidance of that requirement.
As regards supports for local authorities and others, I do not have a windfall to hand over to local authorities to manage their affairs better. I have required local authorities to draw up waste management plans. I have also encouraged smaller authorities to use the structure of the regional authorities to draw up regional waste management plans. There are a number of types of waste which can be best disposed of and which may not be found in each county. This synergy is developing in some counties. Some urban authorities do not have land for waste disposal. They must engage in discussions with their neighbours about a comprehensive plan. It is not a matter, as Senator Dardis suggested, of handing waste over to another local authority to bear the cost. The producer of the waste must bear that cost.
Recycling is an extremely important component in waste minimisation. Within the next couple of weeks I will publish the details of moneys available for waste minimisation and recycling projects. Moneys are and will be available under the operational programme between now and 1999. The details on how public and private enterprise should apply for that will be available in the next few weeks, as will a revised overall recycling strategy to develop the national strategy, which has already been published by the Government.
Unless the Minister adopts a uniform approach, a haphazard situation could develop where some authorities, but not others, pay grants or assistance. This would lead to confusion and complaints. The Minister should outline how this will be done, although he should not do so by legislation or ministerial order. I would have tabled an amendment to include a money provision had I the power to do so. A token amount of £1 million or £2 million could be set aside in this regard. The Minister should issue guidelines so that progressive action does not take place in one local authority — Galway County Council was mentioned — but not in others. This could lead to a lack of uniformity and confusion between local authorities who pay grants for research by community groups on how to reduce their costs and those who do not. Guidelines must be issued otherwise nothing will be done because of competing demands on local authorities. Since they will be statutorily obliged to offer assistance, a token amount should be set aside which can be reviewed every five years.
I do not agree with Senator Daly. I have great faith in local authorities.
So have I.
I have talked to local authorities throughout the country about this Bill and I have made it clear this is what the Government requires. I did not need to do so because every local authority is already engaged in developing its own waste management plan. I have met all the regional authorities and they mentioned the synergy of co-operation between local authorities. There is ongoing dialogue. However, there is always a dichotomy and people argue both sides of the coin in any debate on local authorities. Sometimes people want centralised law laid down so that everybody marches to the same beat while others want devolution and subsidiarity to allow everyone to do their own thing. We cannot have both. I have faith that local government will do the job because it is the right thing to do. Local authorities have embraced the proposals I gave them.
Some ambitious projects are already surfacing, such as integrated waste management plans for urban areas which deal with collection, waste segregation, composting, waste minimisation strategies, education in the schools, etc. Local authorities are devising such strategies now. I look forward to the submissions I will receive when I publish the guidelines and application forms for research and waste management available under the operational programme. Some £18 million will be available between now and 1999 under the operational programme.
Local authorities will also be able to generate moneys from charging for waste disposal. The principle that polluter pays will apply because if we do not require the person generating the waste to pay, there is no incentive not to continue producing it. It is not a good idea that the State or the taxpayer should fund waste disposal as opposed to those who create the waste. There must be a financial incentive to minimise waste production in the first instance, which is the underlying strategy of this Bill.
I endorse what the Minister said about the devolution of powers to local authorities and the idea of subsidiarity. In that context, I hope he will remind his Labour Party colleagues on Kildare County Council that that principle operates when we come to consider taxi and hackney licences. I believe they would like it dealt with by the Department.
I agree with the Minister about cost and that people do not act in a particular way until there is a financial obligation on them to do so or there is a penalty. On the question of the polluter paying, a later section refers to the obligations of the local authority in its functional area in terms of minimising pollution. This brings us back to the difficulty in Kill where we await a High Court decision on whether the facility there will go ahead. Kildare County Council is responsible for the functional area, while the waste comes from Dublin. From the later provisions on the obligations on a local authority for its functional area, it strikes me that emissions from that landfill facility will be the responsibility of Kildare County Council rather than Dublin, which is sending the waste.
The Minister said the person who generates the waste is responsible for it but once it is in the ground, it will be difficult to go back to those who put it there as it will be in a different local authority functional area. Although the Minister said the creator of the waste should pay, I am not sure it would not fall to Kildare County Council to meet some of these costs because the landfill dump is in its functional area.
I share the Minister's confidence in the local authority system. We know the expertise is there and local authorities are now committed to action. The Minister mentioned liaisons between councils and groups. I understand that in the western region meetings between managers of county councils are ongoing and that counties are liaising on the important matter of waste disposal and the provision of facilities. I endorse what the Minister said and I share his confidence in the local authority system.
The House will understand if I am not drawn into an issue which is under judicial review. The principle that the polluter pays will apply. Obviously, the operation of a landfill facility for the disposal of waste, will be the responsibility of the operator. If the operator is a local authority, it will be its responsibility. This Bill takes away from local authorities the power to monitor and licence themselves because that proved unsatisfactory.
Before any local authority or private waste disposal facility is established, it must be independently vetted and licensed by the Environmental Protection Agency, which will be the monitoring agency for future performance. If a local authority purports to offer a facility for waste disposal, it must comply with the high standards set out in the Bill. Local authorities will need to work out plans in terms of the cost of doing that and charge the producer of waste an appropriate amount which will cover the environmental cost of its safe disposal. That is a clear principle which will be followed by commercial and local authority waste disposal operations after the enactment of this provision.
I am not clear about the money and I would like the opportunity to put down an amendment on Report Stage.
Under the previous section the Minister and the local authority could provide support and assistance. This section relates more directly to the polluter pays principle and measures concerning the recovery of waste. I am not clear whether the local authority as well as the Minister can take specific actions in this area. Section 29 (4) states that regulations under this section "may provide". Is it only the Minister who can make these regulations or can local authorities take specific actions? I support those speakers and the Minister who said that local authorities, in some cases, should be able to take specific actions which could vary from one local authority to another.
There is much scope in this section to make the polluter pay and for generating finance which would allow local authorities to operate principles of recovery and recycling. Section 29 (4) (f) states: "requiring a producer, distributor or retailer to operate a deposit and refund scheme", while section 29 (4) (i) allows a sales outlet to impose a charge on a customer. May outlets charge for plastic bags? At present people must pay to use environmentally friendly bags, while plastic bags are provided free hand over first. Will it be possible for local authorities to charge for plastic bags and to require distributors and shops to have a deposit and refund scheme which would allow for the return of packaging waste? This idea is well advanced in France and Germany. Does the Minister intend to introduce regulations under this section, which has the capacity to make a difference in practices?
When I first read section 29 (4) (j) I thought it would be extremely difficult for it to work. It was not until I heard the Minister explain the polluter pays principle on Second Stage that I began to understand it. If this is to work, the public must be educated and, as a nation, we have not done a very good job in this regard.
As regards Senator O'Sullivan's point, it will not be easy to charge for packaging. My company tried to do this some years ago but it did not work. I remember a customer with £80 worth of goods being asked to pay 8p for eight plastic bags. The customer refused to pay and asked if we wanted her business. It is unlikely that businesses will be able to enforce this. Will the shopkeeper need to put his hand in his pocket and break the law to pay the 8p? I say this not to disagree with it — the concept is exactly right, the Minister has it right — but it will not work without more education and a deeper understanding. When I sit down with a group of customers I find a small number of deeply committed people understand it but a large number of customers who will say that they do not understand it.
In supporting and agreeing with this empowering legislation, I must say it cannot work without a greater emphasis on the education aspect. I would remind the Minister of the need to ensure this education process takes place not just in this area but in every area. The question of the polluter pays is not just for the industrial waste creator; it is one for every person who throws litter on the street, even those who buy a wrapped sweet produce some form of litter or waste. We must do a huge job, as a nation, to present that issue to the people so that it is understood.
During its discussion on waste management, Cork County Council held a day long seminar to deal with many aspects of waste disposal. Of course, the concept that the polluter pays was one prominent aspect of it. A number of experts discussed all aspects of waste disposal and recovery; it was a very useful day.
During the seminar we addressed educating households in the types of waste involved because people often say they have a waste bin in which they can throw anything. A little thought can often reduce a great amount of disposable waste. How many items can be dumped in the fire? How many items can be used to fertilise the garden which are dumped in the dustbin and taken away? Local authorities must then try to find places to dispose of this waste at tremendous cost. I believe education and the polluter pays principle are important aspects of waste management.
The concept that the polluter pays is crucial and important. When this Bill becomes law, it is vital that it is followed by a strong public relations campaign to remind people of the importance of what is enshrined in it. I agree with my colleague, Senator Calnan, that seminars and conferences on waste management and pollution will be important over the next number of months.
We all have a part to play. I think it was G.K. Chesterton who said "Trifles make perfection but perfection is no trifle". This Bill may not be perfect but if we all do a little — that is the trifle — we can make it almost perfect. We all have an important part to play in bringing this into being so the idea of education, PR and seminars on waste management, pollution and environmental friendliness will be important when the Bill is passed.
This is an important section of the Bill. In answer to Senator O'Sullivan's question, it will be for the Minister to draw up the regulations. It is not envisaged that individual local authorities would set charges for different types of activities within their areas. That would create a level of confusion and be anti-competitive. It would work against the overall aim, which is environmental rather than fiscal, although I am sure some local authorities would look on it as a fiscal as opposed to an environmental measure.
I envisage drafting regulations which have national application exactly on the lines discussed. I intend to undertake a great deal of consultation because I am acutely aware of the practical difficulties that will arise instanced by Senator Quinn. I do not want to go off on a tangent but we are reviewing the litter legislation separately and it will be published before the summer and I intend having an impactive anti-litter campaign. There will be meaningful legislative change, education and a media campaign and we will mobilise everyone in this society against litter. I have discussed the matter with business and chairpersons and management at local authority level. The point Senator Quinn raised about plastic bags arises with litter, that is, the enforceability of law.
A litter survey yesterday revealed that the majority of people did not know it was an offence punishable by a £25 fine to drop litter on the street, although the legislation making it an offence is 13 years old. Many county managers and chairpersons of local authorities said bluntly that if Mrs. Murphy is stopped in the street for dropping a piece of paper by a litter warden who says "Madam, you have committed an offence and I am fining you £25", there would be blue murder because we are not yet attuned psychologically to the gravity of litter as an offence whereas we take parking on a double yellow line as an offence and pay the penalty. In fact, we do not park in such places because we know there will be a penalty for doing so. We need to change public awareness in exactly the way Senators have mentioned so that it will be as psychologically unacceptable for us to drop litter on the street as it is to drop litter in our sitting rooms.
The same applies to waste minimisation. We must stop the production of plastic bags which festoon every roadside, shrub and hedgerow in the country. The way is not to spend more and more in collecting and cleaning those roadsides — we spend about £20 million on litter collection at present — but to cut down on the production of plastic bags. Although there are environmentally supportive and friendly shops, shopkeepers and supermarket operators, there are those who will wrap every item four-fold before they give them to you. I have often gone into a shop to buy a newspaper to be asked "Do you want it in a bag?". We must change that concept. Everything need not be wrapped twice or three times. We must get away from that thinking and part of that could involve charging for plastic bags, for example.
It is my belief — and I have discussed it with some supermarket operators — that those who are proactive in this will actually gain clientéle. There will be the one who will not pay the 8p on £80 but there will be many more who will say that people, companies and supermarket operators who take a stand on this, who are pathfinders, will actually gain support and attract business. We cannot operate without creating an even playing field and what applies to one, must apply to all. All my discussions so far have indicated goodwill from shopkeepers and operators to minimise the use of plastic bags for example, but there are other issues also — the production of aluminium cans, tin cans, etc.
When I was a chap there was always a deposit on bottles. One collected half a dozen bottles, brought them back and got a couple of pence on each bottle. It was a way of getting a few shillings. Now everything is disposable. We must reverse that trend so that there is a requirement to return bottles, for example, and to minimise packaging. That is what is provided for in this section. Regulations will be drawn up and it is my intention to do that with much consultation and advanced planning. It would be my intention not to adopt the big stick approach. As far as possible, where we can get voluntary codes and agreements, we will not take the big stick route. From my initial discussions with all concerned. I feel there is a great willingness to go down this road.
I endorse the Minister's remarks. My household separates cans, bottles and newspapers from the rest of the waste because there is a facility close to us where we can dispose of those materials. This is the key to the matter. Unless a facility is easily accessible, one will not use it. It is easy to put waste in a car and dump it into the Rehab bottle bank etc. and that is where local authorities can make a significant contribution. Kildare County Council has done a good job in that respect, particularly in the larger towns. While education is important, access to these waste disposal facilities is central. The Minister is right about plastic bags. More often than not one has to tell a shopkeeper one does not want a plastic bag for shopping.
I welcome the Minister's intention to introduce regulations quickly following consultation in this area. This will be crucial.
The option to take individual responsibility has not been grasped by the people, even when a facility is nearby. While we say people should not use too many plastic bags and should return bottles, cans etc. for recycling, we still regard it as not being our problem. There are widespread facilities, especially for dumping bottles and cans, if one has access to transport, although this poses a problem for people without cars. However, we need to bring home to people that they, as individuals, have a responsibility. People should not use too many plastic bags when shopping and since we still have not got this message across it may be necessary to charge for them.
Like Limerick Corporation when it brings its waste to County Clare.
I am concerned about the disposal of waste from boats coming ashore. Under the Pollution Act and the MARPOL directives, etc., the onus is on our port authority to ensure it disposes of whatever waste comes from a boat which arrives from the Continent. The means by which this waste can be disposed of are clearly laid out. It cannot be disposed of in a refuse dump.
We had a problem with a Russian ship that came to Dingle port. We had to get a health inspector from Kerry County Council to examine it. We also had to get a special container and a tractor and trailer to take this refuse to a farm to be buried at a cost of £200. I could not understand why we had to do that.
Many boats and yachts come to Cork port on a regular basis and hundreds of European tourists use the ferry in their cars during the summer. That creates waste. Why is it so difficult to get rid of rubbish from a boat when the people driving from the ferry may put their refuse into the first litter bin they see? This Bill will not control the refuse that will come into our country.
Kerry County Council will not take the waste the Dingle Harbour Commissioners collect from its pier. The commissioners must dispose of it. Where is the Minister going with a measure like this? We provided waste bins for Dingle harbour and pier. They are being used by the public because they know we will empty them quickly. Pollution control and waste management are linked, but do not get any cooperation from Kerry County Council. I raised the matter with its manager at a recent meeting and he told me it was our problem.
The Senator is right; the polluter pays. The creator and receiver of the waste, if they are willing to accept it, must devise a way to dispose of it. Local authorities will have a legal obligation to dispose of waste in a way that does not damage the environment. Once this Bill is enacted, anybody on Irish soil will be required to do the same.
In separating and recycling waste, the bring and collect systems are generally used. The collect system operates largely in Dublin through Kerbside, an effective collect system. That will be expanded greatly under the REPAK initiative launched some weeks ago. The bring system, where people like Senator Dardis use bottle, can, fabric and paper banks to dispose of various types of recyclable material, is to be expanded as well. We envisage a doubling of the current provision so we can provide a bring system to the vast bulk of our population.
I am concerned, and it is covered in this Bill, that the operation of those systems should be environmentally friendly. We have all seen bottle banks overflowing on weekends and people stacking bottles beside the bank on the street. That is not, and will not be, acceptable. Whoever operates these facilities, and some do so extremely well, will have to ensure they are properly monitored and emptied, otherwise they will work against the environmental objectives in this Bill. The Rehabilitation Institute, under the commercial wing of Gandon Enterprises, is a large operator in this area and it plans to expand considerably. All of these operations can be facilitated by new grant aid that will be available shortly under the operational programme.
I envisage that much of our domestic waste can be segregated and recycled. The objective under the existing recycling strategy is to triple the volume of domestic waste recycled. We currently recycle around 7 per cent of our domestic waste and an objective of 21 per cent is modest; I hope we can go much further that that. However, we need to change the psychological attitude of our people that this is not simply somebody else's problem. One worrying aspect of yesterday's litter survey is that 14 per cent of people who responded said there was nothing wrong with disposing of litter for somebody else to collect. We get bizarre and silly comments to the effect that disposing of waste in an environmentally friendly way would only put sweepers out of a job. We must fundamentally change that attitude because the vast bulk of our population want a clean environment.
Waste will be one of the biggest issues local authorities will have to address in the next century. We are now putting in a legislative framework to meet the problem. I have no illusions about this. Enacting this provision will not cure the waste problem. Purists would argue that no residual waste should be left at the end of the waste hierarchy because it will either all have been recycled or greatly minimised. There will always be some irreducible volume at the end but we want to make that as small as we can and we must find a method of dealing with it. We have the options of landfill sites or incineration but I do not perceive huge enthusiasm for either idea. A strategy must be devised to work in a way which does not impact on the environment. Only through time can we make those options acceptable to local communities. A great deal of work must be done to achieve this objective. I have no illusions in that regard.
The Minister did not come within an ass's roar of responding to what I said.
I beg the Senator's pardon. I am sure he will forgive me if I do not deal with the waste problems of every local authority. I addressed the issue in general terms by informing the Senator that it is his problem and he must deal with it. The problem can be solved commercially, by using a waste disposal company, or through negotiation with the local authority. It strikes me as odd that the Senator cannot reach a commercial settlement with the county council for the disposal of waste. I will not involve myself with resolving the Senator's difficulties with his county council because I have other things to do.
I have no difficulty communicating with the county council. The Minister will probably receive a letter about the matter soon because of the way we have been treated.
My point is that, if the pollution control Acts and the MARPOL Convention are to be implemented, special disposable containers must be used to offload the waste from pleasure boats entering Irish ports. However, ferries entering Irish ports with 150 tourist cars on board are not required to disclose whether they are importing waste. The importation of such waste to an island nation is classed as hazardous waste under the contol of pollution Acts and other legislation. Nobody knows the nature of such waste which could bring disease into the country. The legislation is implemented in relation to yachts, etc., but is not implemented where ferries are concerned.
Hazardous waste cannot be imported. A regime is in place which sets out in clear terms how someone can do so if dealing with a recycling plant. I am not aware of the importation of hazardous waste at present. The disposal policy for hazardous waste was established by my predecessor. There will not be a national hazardous waste incinerator. Hazardous waste will be disposed of on the site where it is produced.
The Senator is discussing legislation that relates to the Department of the Marine, with which I am unfamiliar.
The legislation involving the MARPOL Convention was passed by this House.
This is the first solid waste management Bill to be brought before the House. However, I will ask my officials to consider the point the Senator raised.
I will provide the Minister with information on the legislation involved.
Senator Fitzgerald referred to the disposal of waste at sea. Even though legislation covering that is in place, concerns have been expressed that sizeable amounts of waste are being washed up on beaches. Questions arise on dealing with this problem and it seems there is a division of responsibility between Departments. The Department of the Marine has responsibility to prevent dumping of waste at sea but quite an amount of waste is washed up on our coastline even though legislation to minimise the problem has been enacted. The legislation has had very little visible impact, a fact which is illustrated by the huge volumes of waste that wash up on our shores in a rough winter. There may be a need to encourage a closer liaison between the Departments of the Marine and the Environment to resolve the problem.
The Senator has clarified the point. This matter involves two separate issues. The disposal of waste at sea does not come within the purview of this legislation, it is controlled by separate legislation which falls under the ambit of the Minister for the Marine.
Despite the introduction of legislation, sizeable amounts of refuse are still being deposited on Irish beaches. The beaches in the Minister's county were affected by such waste last week and the beaches in west Clare were devastated by people washing out oil tanks. This involves separate legislation which does not seem to be effective.
It is not the responsibility of the Department of the Environment.
It should be.
I stated clearly the principles included in this legislation. The Bill is very complicated and complex and is designed to deal with solid waste management. It does not deal with water or air pollution or dumping at sea, for which there are existing legislative frameworks and separate enactments. If the law of the land is not effective, the matter should be examined by the appropriate Minister. This is not a catch-all Bill to deal with the various aspects of waste or pollution. It is specifically stated that pollution at sea is not encompassed by the Bill, which is comprehensive, detailed and demanding enough.
It is not my intention to unduly delay the passage of this Bill. I appreciate the Minister's remarks. However, to give him an example, a local community organisation in west Clare removed in the region of 20 tonnes of waste material from the coastline between Spanish Point and Quilty as part of a community effort. The local authority or some other body should be responsible for the collection and disposal of such waste, which includes empty wine bottles, disused fishing gear, etc.
It could be transported by road to Urlingford and disposed of there.
Perhaps the Minister might consider this issue in conjunction with the Minister for the Marine.
If it does not deal with the type of waste to which Senators Fitzgerald and Daly referred, does the Bill cater for waste created by cruiser traffic on inland waterways such as the Shannon? The people of County Roscommon are constantly reminded of the damage done by boat traffic to the Shannon and the Suck. While waste disposal facilities are provided at two locations on the Shannon in County Roscommon, the Department has not replied to requests for further facilities.
The Senator might specify the Department involved.
Does this Bill cater for the disposal of waste created by traffic on our main inland waterways, particularly the Shannon?
Is Senator Finneran referring to domestic rubbish?
I refer to waste dumped over the side of a boat.
The creation and disposal of waste, on rivers and on the land, is encompassed by this legislation. The disposal of waste at sea is a separate issue and is not covered by the Bill. The instances to which the Senator referred are covered. We are not discussing pump-out stations or sewerage plants which are covered by different legislation, we are discussing solid waste.
Is the Minister saying that the pump-out facilities required on the Erne-Ballyconnell-Shannon navigation system, for the disposal of waste generated by cruiser traffic, are not covered? Will we not be able to call on the Department to provide facilities under this legislation for the disposal of such waste?
We are straying well beyond the scope of the Bill, which deals with genuine and complicated issues: if a general debate on pollution is required. I will happily come back for one. The question of sewage disposal into the Shannon is not covered in the Bill, which is comprehensive legislation dealing with solid waste. The pump-out facilities on the Shannon are a matter for the Office of Public Works, which provides them. I have had discussions with the Office of Public Works in my general responsibilities as I am anxious that comprehensive pump-out facilities be available. I used the river for the first time last year and it is not acceptable that people discharge their waste into it. However, that issue is not encompassed in the Bill.
I mentioned time frames on a previous section, a factor that applies to this section also. As it can be difficult to grasp a technical Bill such as this when examining it line by line, can the Minister outline the time frame in this section? There will be ministerial, local authority and area programmes but what co-ordination will there be between them? Without necessarily going into detail, perhaps the Minister would indicate how it will work in practice. If he will be preparing a programme which will be reviewed, will it have to be completed within a period of, say one year or five years? If no time frame is provided for, it will not be completed.
Section 30 refers to public authority waste management and it is my intention to promulgate such a programme as soon as the Bill is enacted. I have already begum work on its preparation and this section shows the framework I have laid out. We are currently developing guidelines for the approach to environmental management at public authority level, through the publication of "green housekeeping" guidelines. There will be need for a wide range of consultation with local authorities and Government Departments, which will start shortly.
I expect the final set of housekeeping guidelines to be used by public authorities to be available before the end of this year. It is my intention to direct that the guidelines should be sent to all Government Departments and that they be asked to adopt them for use by themselves and any agency under their control. The process will include formulating plans which incorporate waste minimisation, green procurement and recycling as well as energy conservation measures. The latter have already been dealt with by colleagues from the Department of Transport, Energy and Communications and the Irish Energy Centre, while local authorities have already started the "Agenda 21" and sustainable development initiatives. I am meeting local authorities tomorrow to discuss the strategic management initiative and I will put this factor to them. All public authorities — from Government Departments to the Houses of the Oireachtas, local authorities and State agencies under each Department — will be expected to adopt their own "green housekeeping" standards and guidelines within 12 months.
My only concern is that the section should include a specified time limit. I accept that the Minister will expedite this provision but it is reasonable for us to ask that the Bill provide that these matters be in place within a two to four year period.
The Minister said he would be speaking to local authorities tomorrow. The previous section dealt with the obligation on shops and supermarkets to provide containers for waste; this section covers guidelines for local authorities. I live on the outskirts of Ennis where there is a recurring problem with rubbish from chip shops and fast food outlets as a result of food purchased after discos end. The contents of the containers are consumed by the time cars reach my house, which is about a mile from the town, and then the rubbish is thrown out of the car windows. For years my family, my staff and I have cleaned the roadside but we are getting tired of it. I suggested to the local authority that there are numerous employment schemes under which someone could deal with this problem. In the context of his meeting tomorrow, could the Minister use this section to deal with such matters and get local authorities to fulfil their obligations?
I support the provisions of this Bill and the Minister's attempts to set up a structure for the disposal and management of waste and to ensure that the responsibilities of local authorities will be exercised in a manner which will reduce rather than increase the impact of waste on our environment. For that reason I wish to address issues which have an immediate impact in my area, although they are not confined to it. Section 30 (4) states:
the Minister shall publish guidelines and criteria in relation to the prevention, minimisation and recovery of waste, to which public authorities shall have regard in the performance of their functions, and such guidelines and criteria may include provision for all or any of the following matters—
(a) consideration being given by public authorities for the likely effects on the environment of particular goods or services they propose to purchase or engage[.]
The other subsections contain similar provisions. In that context, I ask the Minister to ensure those guidelines are introduced, and that the requirements referred to are adhered to, as quickly as possible. I make this request in the light of a major issue which has arisen in the Slieve Felims, a beautiful, remote mountain region on the Tipperary-Limerick border. This is an unspoilt area and the local people have little by way of wealth other than their natural environment. They have worked consistently hard to attract tourists with special interest in monastic establishments, walks and other attractions which a remote mountain region would have for people from other countries, and we should encourage them in doing so. Despite this, Limerick County Council proposes to locate a major landfill site in the heart of the Slieve Felims. One reason the area is considered suitable for such facility is that it is remote and will not be immediately visible to many people. It is those very attributes that make the location special. The community there is concerned about the issue.
I remind the Senator he raised this matter recently on the Adjournment.
I am aware of that but I want to draw the matter to the Minister's attention. These provisions must be introduced urgently to ensure waste management by local authorities in Limerick will not be allowed cause waste pollution in a beautiful and remote area. We must ensure that people living in disadvantaged mountain regions will not be penalised because those living in urban areas do not manage and regulate properly the disposal of their waste. The Minister should introduce these regulations as quickly as possible. I would like an assurance that he will use his powers under this Bill to guarantee that the beautiful and remote area of the Slieve Felims will not be polluted and spoiled.
In supporting Senator Howard I wish to coin a law — the first law of take away. The average car travelling at average speed with the average family takes a mile and a half to consume the average take away. I live a mile and a half away from the local take away and the rubbish arrives at my doorstep. Thus, I can verify the accuracy of the law.
It appears such materials are covered in the First Schedule —"consumption products" is the term used. Is such littering a matter for the litter Acts or this legislation? As Senator Howard said, this has become a serious problem in the countryside. We get tired of having to clean up outside our own properties.
Waste can accumulate in cemeteries. Indeed, one may sometimes find the remains of coffins and human bones lying around. Skips are often provided in cemeteries but the contents can spill over onto graves. Work could be carried out in cemeteries in the past under community employment schemes but the last Government ended that. The Minister mentioned that he would be meeting local authority representatives tomorrow. Perhaps he will impress on them the need to have skips and bins in cemeteries emptied regularly.
This Bill is empowering legislation to allow the Minister to hold a big stick over us if we do not behave ourselves. It is valuable and worthwhile. However, I am reminded of the World Cup in Italy in 1990 when the Irish fans were compared with the English fans who did not support good behaviour. After one of the matches as the Irish fans left the stand they picked up all the litter to show how good they were.
Although the big stick is a valuable way of ensuring good behaviour, education, pride and enthusiasm is more valuable. If we can engender these qualities the problems to which Senator Howard and Senator Dardis referred will be solved. Let us ensure the Minister has powers but I hope he will work towards solving the litter problem with education towards pride and enthusiasm.
The term "take away" is contradictory — the food is eaten but the remains are left behind. This creates trouble for the local authorities who have to get people to clean up early in the morning. Much money is spent on education, we boast about our young educated people, but they are the ones dropping the litter on the streets. Who is supposed to clean it up?
There is an old song which goes, "everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die". A similar logic applies to tipheads: we cannot have them in or near urban areas, or in remote areas because they spoil the scenery.
Senator Daly referred to the time frame of the management plan. I do not envisage the plans as being once-off. They will not provide immutable criteria for all time. The plans will evolve as we learn more. They will become more efficient and new practices will become available. The plans will be organic of their nature. It will not be a question of having plans within particular time frames.
It is my intention to have the "green housekeeping" guidelines available by the end of this year, assuming the Bill is enacted. Semi-State agencies and local authorities will then be invited to engage in the process — the local authorities have already started with Agenda 21 — and encouraged to work towards certification. There is European wide certification under EMAS which is now becoming available in Ireland. It will not involve a once-off fixed time frame.
Senator Howard and others referred to litter. I will make litter a major issue during my time as Minister. I have established an anti-litter unit in the Department. I have had detailed discussions with a number of organisations, voluntary groups and local authorities in relation to this initiative. The unit is being put in place and will cover the areas Senators mentioned. We are looking at the issue of take aways, for example.
Tackling litter will involve education and strong enforcement of the law. However, it is easier said than done. We will not have litter wardens outside every premises in the country early in the morning, whether they are one and a half miles or more from a take away. Stronger litter legislation will be published before the summer. I am determined that it will fit into a comprehensive strategy to deal with litter, which will include education. Before Easter a new anti-litter pack and video will be distributed to every second level school, with a new pack to every primary school. We will commence a multi media advertising campaign, which I have approved. It will touch on the issues to which Senator Quinn referred such as national pride, which is a very effective mechanism. I will be interested to hear the reaction of the House because it is intended to be hard hitting. Indeed, I expect that there will be reservations because of this.
There will be provision in the legislation that may impact on the question raised by Senator Dardis. Sections 28 and 29 deal with deposit and return. We can deal with the containers from takeaways under this provision. It will enable us to provide at least a financial disincentive to litter.
With regard to the clean up of cemeteries etc., we must in the first instance ensure that people do not litter. Second, we must ensure that there is a comprehensive strategy to deal with litter at local authority level so that there are provisions to dispose of litter safely by those visiting cemeteries or beaches. It is an issue I will raise with the local authorities.
With regard to Senator O'Kennedy's point, it is almost a truism that there is no great welcome for a landfill site anywhere, no more than there is for incineration. However, there is an irreducible volume of waste that must be dealt with safely and the purpose of this legislation is to deal with it environmentally safely and sensitively. There will be a cost involved in this, but it will be done safely and there will be no question of despoiling the environment. It will be licensed by the Environmental Protection Agency independently of any local authority and monitored by it to ensure that the high standards set in the legislation are adhered to.
I wish to correct a couple of points I made earlier.
Are you referring to a point raise on a previous section?
A brief comment.
I advised the Minister that Kerry County Council had refused to collect refuse from the port of Dingle. There is no onus on Kerry County Council to collect the refuse. The MARPOL Convention provides that refuse from yachts must be collected by the port authority under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture, taken to a place other than a public dump, buried at a certain depth and sprayed.
The Minister advised that the response to the placing of a landfill site in a specific location would be replicated in other areas. Apart from regulating the environmental impact or reducing the pollution impact, will he indicate that he is also free to decide that there will not be any environmental impact in terms of waste disposal? Will he confirm that it is within his remit to refuse to sanction the location of landfill sites?
The authority to licence is a matter for the agency. The idea of setting up a specialist environmental agency is that, using best environmental practise and best international standards, it would make a determination. It will not be for the Minister to do this but the agency. Any proposals for a siting of a landfill from a local authority or a private operator would have to meet these high criteria. The agency would be the ultimate authority to decide to license or not. Planning is a separate issue.
I move amendment No. 8a:
In page 43, between lines 37 and 38, to insert the following new paragraph:
"(d) not hold, recover or dispose of waste in a manner which causes, or is likely to cause, environmental pollution.".
The purpose the amendment is to provide that local authorities, under the authority given them by the section to handle and recover waste, would not create pollution.
The amendment is unnecessary because section 32(1) prohibits any person from holding, recovering or disposing of waste in a manner that causes or is likely to cause environmental pollution. The word "person" in this subsection applies to everybody including, under the interpretation, any corporate body, local authority or individual.
I can see difficulty here in times of emergency. Three years ago there was a fire in a meat factory in County Roscommon. The county manager was very exposed on that occasion and Roscommon County Council has been exposed ever since. The council is at a loss of £150,000 as a result of the negligence of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. At the time the county manager, with the backing of the majority of the council, had to take emergency action. However, he received very little support elsewhere and was subjected to much trouble and criticism. The council is at a loss of £150,000 on account of the action he was obliged to take in the interest of public health. Afterwards, many tried to insinuate and to prove that the action he took was a danger to public health.
Unless there is financial provision, legislation such as this cannot operate. Roscommon County Council finds it obnoxious that, while £150,000 is due to it from a Department, the same Department must now pay a fine of between £16 million and £20 million to the EU Commission because of its negligence.
The amendment is specific.
A county manager can be responsible. The amendment highlights a situation that could develop, indeed it could be written for the situation to which I have referred.
We will deal with it as it is written and I ask you to make your contribution based on this.
The amendment states: ". . .not hold, recover or dispose of waste in a manner which causes, or is likely to cause, environmental pollution". Everybody supports this principle and the Minister advises there is no need for the amendment because it is catered for in the Bill. However, recently a county manager recently left himself open on two counts in adhering to this provision. In the first instance, he was challenged in the courts and was found to have acted wrongly because he had to act independently. Second, the council was left at a financial loss. This type of situation could prohibit and stall a county manager from taking the necessary action. I ask the Minister to address that point. In the future, public officials, whether county managers or not, will be conscious of the possibility of litigation and how they spend public funds. A county manager sometimes has to leave these considerations aside in times of emergency, but when they are in that situation, they should not be left to carry the can.
You will forgive me if I do not get drawn into a particular issue but I will give a general response. It is not, and never will be, envisaged in this legislation that any circumstances would arise which would exempt people from disposing of waste in an environmentally friendly way. I am not prepared to accept an argument that a situation can arise that will allow people to pollute.
I understood from the case instanced that the best environmental solution available was used by the local authority concerned. I am unaware of any environmental problems that have arisen subsequent to that disposal. It is a matter of principle that the blanket requirement that everybody who is disposing of waste would do so in an environmentally safe way is immutable. That is the intention of the legislation.
Is the amendment being pressed?
It was because of the next section that I put down this amendment, as it appeared to me that authorities would not be liable if they caused pollution. In view of the Minister's assurance, I withdraw the amendment.
Can we get a commitment from the Minister that, in the event of a local authority having to take specific measures, it will not be at a loss? Every few months this matter is raised at Roscommon County Council, where we have a major overdraft. The Department of the Environment is not responding to our council regarding a claim for money spent. We have to ask the Department of the Environment for money and the council ask why I do not raise the case here and today I am discussing legislation that will allow the situation to continue without a commitment. In his reply, the Minister did not give the commitment I asked for — where managers take appropriate action they will be reimbursed. In that case the manager proved he took a proper decision by ensuring environmental damage was not done and the public were protected from disease or whatever. As a gesture, the Minister should look at the file of Roscommon County Council and pay the £150,000 due to it. Then when we are promoting this legislation to our councils we will say there is goodwill in the Department of Environment where managers take effective action to protect the public and the environment.
I explained earlier that the overriding principle of this legislation is that the polluter pays, not the taxpayer. The day of the notion that the taxpayer is responsible for everything is gone. The person who generates waste——
The taxpayer is going to pay £16 million to the EU.
Let us not go down culde-sacs. We are dealing with waste management and the Bill in front of us now. I am not going to talk about beef fines, the EU or anything else. If the Senator wants, we will come back and debate that on the Adjournment with the appropriate Minister.
It is very important to me that people understand the principles behind this Bill, because they are new to be enacted in legislation. The polluter pays and the generator of waste or environmental damage must be the one called to book. On a general principle, the view that people can walk away from causing environmental damage and that the local authority or the Government will shell out to meet the costs involved is a bad signal to give, and it is one I am not prepared to give.
I agree fully but it was another Department which was responsible. What has happened is that a county council has fallen between two Departments. I agree the polluter should pay but unfortunately the responsibility for the pollution on this occasion falls back on the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. I understand that because they did not have insurance, Roscommon County Council cannot claim what is owed to them. It should get the money from somewhere; it should not be left carrying the can.
I would like to hear the Minister's view on the holding, collection and movement of waste as it affects local authorities. At present, there is conflict between industry and the environment, in so far as industry creates, holds and disposes of waste. Local authorities come under pressure to give planning permission for an industrial project but when the waste is to be disposed, they have to grant a licence or a permit. While local authorities will give permission for a specific industrial or processing project, they are not prepared to give a licence or a permit for the waste to be put in one of their dumps. In some cases people are getting licences from a different authority because the county manager there may adopt an easier approach. Where a local authority gives permission for a manufacturing project, the disposal of the waste should be part and parcel of the industrial development.
An instance with which the Minister would be familiar is that of a meat processing plant — he has many in his county, as we have in Roscommon. They provide wonderful employment but we also have to deal with a certain amount of waste products. One of these is belly grass, which is not a pollutant to any great extent, but only one or two local authorities will accept belly grass in their civic dumps. Where do the local authorities think it is going to go? Why are they allowing meat processing projects to go ahead if they are not taking the disposal of belly grass into account?
Local authorities should have a clear understanding that if they are involved in planning permission, they should also be aware of the necessity of issuing a permit or licence to deal with waste from the particular project.
The objective of this Bill is that the polluter will pay. Those who generate waste must be responsible for its safe disposal. It is not a matter of offloading that responsibility onto a local authority or anybody else; I have no intention of requiring local authorities to take on that job. The principle that the polluter pays is a basic one.
Under the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992, many industrial activities are now licensable under the integrated pollution and control licensing system. I signed new orders yesterday further extending the IPC licensing regime and many of the activities mentioned are now included. It is now up to the operators of the plant to come up with a scheme that will satisfy the Environmental Protection Agency and the licensing regime that they can dispose safely of any waste that arises in the manufacturing process — without damage to earth, soil or water. This is covered specifically in amendments Nos. 9 and 10 which have yet to be dealt with. The planning authority must look at the planning issues. The Environmental Protection Agency must look at the environmental issues and the creator of waste must devise a strategy to deal with his own waste in an environmentally safe way.
Section 32 (6) (b) states that it will be a good defence for a licence holder, if a holder of refuse for which he has a permit is creating pollution, to say that he has a permit. The fact that he holds a permit means that he is not liable for conviction. Skips and bottle holders with refuse piled up against the sides, because there is insufficient capacity or because they are not properly operated, are a familiar sight. This provision gives a very effective way out to such polluters. They can go to court and say they have a permit for those containers and they will not be convicted.
The intention of this subsection is to avoid duplicating existing legislation. The Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992, sets out a licensing regime for waste holding activities. A permit holder causing pollution is in violation of their waste permit under the 1992 legislation. No circumstances could arise where somebody is causing pollution and could use the fact that they have a permit as a defence. They must comply with the permit issued under the 1992 Act. Rather than duplicate that provision, holders of such permits will not be liable under this section.
The section says that it shall be a good defence for the polluter to say that he or she holds a permit, even though he or she has created pollution, so the person will not be convicted. I cannot follow that.
I will explain it again. The polluter will not be convicted under this section because, within its terms, the holding of a permit is a defence. However, if they are causing pollution they are committing an offence under the 1992 legislation. They are in breach of the permit they already have and will be prosecuted under that provision. In this way we avoid having two legislative provisions to cover the same issue.
Amendments Nos. 9 and 10 are cognate and may be discussed together, by agreement.
I move amendment No. 9:
In page 45, subsection (1) (a), line 4, after "waste" to insert "and if practicable, and if it can do so at a reasonable cost, industrial waste.".
I move this amendment on behalf of Senator Henry. I urge the Minister to give serious consideration to these amendments which do not seek to add any further responsibility or requirement on a local authority but to serve solely as a reminder. While the local authority is obliged under the legislation to ensure that it arranges for the collection of household waste, the purpose of this amendment is to remind it of its responsibilities, which are not legal responsibilities, in regard to industrial waste.
I understand the principle that the polluter pays. I understand the aim of the legislation and I understand the big stick approach, but what is proposed here would serve as a very useful reminder to local authorities that it is not sufficient to disregard businesses and jobs and the creation of employment on the basis that they may ignore something for which there is not a statutory obligation. Since the amendment suggests merely a reminder, the Minister might be able to consider accepting it.
It is more than a reminder, it is a requirement on local authorities to accept industrial waste in certain circumstances. It has never been the case that local authorities were under such a legal requirement.
We have refined our thinking in exactly the way that the Senator has indicated. We must confer ownership of waste on its producer. Producer responsibility and the polluter pays are the underlying principles of this legislation and the notion that this can be offloaded by giving a statutory responsibility to somebody else is contrary to that. Consequently, I do not propose to accept the amendment. It is estimated that 7.12 million tonnes of industrial waste are created every year. That figure includes 1.9 million tonnes of mining and quarrying waste and 2.5 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste.
It is right that the regime we have in place requires the generator of such waste to make proper provision for its safe disposal. The waste producer requires licensing if he is engaged in activities covered under the IPC system, he requires the agreement of a commercial or a local authority to dispose of his waste at the appropriate price, but it would not be right for me to impose a responsibility on local authorities, some of which might not be able to deal with industrial waste, to take that on as a new responsibility.
I take this opportunity to compliment the people involved in the collection of household waste. Every week they travel around to different towns. They do a tremendous job in helping people to dispose of household waste. I could not let the section pass without complimenting them.
This is a grammatical correction.
This section deals with licensing. The local authority can decide whether to give a permit or a licence and I understand that under this legislation there is an option to go to the District Court. I wish to come back to this point about a local authority's right to refuse a licence. What do local authorities which refuse a permit expect will happen to the commercial waste? Is there not a responsibility on local authorities, which give planning permission for industrial development, to take into consideration that waste will arise?