Previous Section Index Home Page

Greater London Authority

Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions for how long it is planned that the future Mayor of London will occupy the offices currently under conversion for him. [101155]

Mr. Hill: The Greater London Authority will remain in Romney House until the new headquarters building at London Bridge is completed. Negotiations on the agreement to lease and occupancy date are well advanced and I expect to make an announcement very shortly.

Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what the budgeted cost is of converting offices for the future Mayor of London. [101154]

Mr. Hill: The temporary home of the new Greater London Authority in Romney House was selected from the Department's estate and it is anticipated that the cost of refurbishment will be around £2 million. The offices will be re-used by the Department once the GLA moves to its new headquarters building in London Bridge.

Mr. Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what response there has been to the consultation on the paper, "The Shape of Things to Come", concerning the organisational structure for the Greater London Authority. [102116]

Mr. Hill: The GLA Transition Team, under Dr. Robert Chilton, has advised me on the responses to the consultation exercise, and I have agreed some minor changes to the organisational structure originally proposed. A response document, entitled "Shaping up for the Mayor and Assembly" has today been published. A copy will be placed in the House Library.

Waste Recycling

Mr. Bennett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list those local authorities which have met his target for recycling domestic waste. [101446]

Mr. Meacher: There is no recycling target which each individual local authority is expected to meet. There is a national goal to recycle or compost 25 per cent. of household waste as soon as possible, hopefully by 2005. By 2010 we hope to see 30 per cent. of household waste being recycled or composted, and in the longer term we hope to see a third of all households being dealt with in this way.

Under our Best Value Initiative performance indicators are being developed for local authority waste services. From these, authorities will be expected to derive targets for their own performance on waste, having regard to any national goals we set in the forthcoming National Waste Strategy. I emphasise, though, that local targets should take account of local assessments of the Best Practicable Environmental Option, and will not therefore necessarily be at the same level as our national goals. I fully expect some authorities to put forward targets that exceed those that we propose, and others to put forward lower targets.

7 Dec 1999 : Column: 483W

From data supplied for the 1997-98 Municipal Waste Survey, it is clear that many authorities are doing excellent work on recycling and composting. From that data, the following authorities have recycling rates of 25 per cent. or over, and some are exceeding 30 per cent.:

    Chichester District Council

    Chiltern District Council

    Christchurch Borough Council

    East Dorset District Council

    Eastleigh Borough Council

    Gosport Borough Council

    Havant Borough Council

    New Forest District Council

    North Dorset District Council

    Purbeck District Council

    Reigate and Banstead Borough Council

    South Bucks District Council

    Tandridge District Council

    Weymouth and Portland Borough Council


    Recycling rates are calculated as the quantity of household waste collected for recycling, expressed as a percentage of total household waste. These calculations exclude recycling of building rubble, and make no allowance for home composting.

    In non-unitary areas, the figures cover amounts collected within the area by both the Waste Collection Authority and the Waste Disposal Authority. In most cases, figures for total household waste (apart from amounts collected for recycling) are taken from returns from Waste Disposal Authorities.

I also know that a number of authorities who do not appear on this list have recently put in new schemes which are helping those authorities to be well on the way to achieving recycling rates over 40 per cent.

Waste Incineration

Mr. Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on his Department's liability for any health problems caused by the incineration of waste. [100942]

Mr. Hill [holding answer 6 December 1999]: The setting and enforcing of high environmental protection standards for waste incineration is a priority for the Government. Incinerators in England (and Wales) are regulated by the Environment Agency or local authorities under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Whether a particular person or organisation would be liable for any damage caused by incineration would be for the Courts to decide in the circumstances of the particular case.

Mr. Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the impact of the incineration of waste on (a) the Government's national air quality strategy and (b) local authority air quality strategies; and if he will make a statement. [100944]

Mr. Hill [holding answer 6 December 1999]: The recent review of the UK National Air Quality Strategy considered all stationary and mobile sources of air pollution, including waste incineration, in forecasting the future air pollution climate. A revised version of the Strategy is to be published shortly. Incineration plant are

7 Dec 1999 : Column: 484W

already tightly controlled under the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 through which EU waste incineration legislation is also implemented.

No national assessment has been made of the impact of incineration on local air quality strategies. In carrying out their local air quality management duties, however, local authorities will need to take account of the impact on air quality of any incineration processes in their areas. In drawing up any action plan or strategy to tackle local air pollution, authorities will wish to ensure that any additional reduction contributed by different sources (including any incineration processes) is balanced, proportionate and cost effective in relation to achieving the plan's objectives.

Mr. Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what research the Government have commissioned into the possible risk to human health from the incineration of waste, indicating the publication date of each research document. [100943]

Mr. Hill [holding answer 6 December 1999]: The following recent Government sponsored research has addressed possible risks to human health specifically in relation to waste incineration:

    Cancer incidence near municipal solid waste incinerators in Great Britain, by SAHSU, Elliott P, et al. Published in the British Journal of Cancer 1996 volume 73, pp 702-710. (A follow up study is to be published in the same journal early next year).

    A study of dioxins and furans in soil around four municipal waste incinerators in Hampshire, prepared by AEA Technology for the Environment Agency, 1996.

    Risks from BSE via environmental pathways, prepared by DNV for the Environment Agency, 1997.

    Health Effects of Waste Combustion Products, prepared by the Medical Research Council/Institute for Environment and Health for DTI, 1997.

The Department of Health's Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants has also published a number of reports which are relevant to possible health effects of waste incineration. These are:

    Asthma and outdoor pollution, Published 1995

    Quantification of the effects of air pollution on health in the UK, Published 1998.

The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution's Seventeenth Report on Incineration of Waste (Cm 2181, 1993) also considered health effects of waste incineration. The Department of Health/Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions Air Pollution Research Initiative is currently examining the effects on health of some products of combustion, including particles. A report for the Environment Agency on clinical waste disposal risk assessment is to be published shortly.

Regional Development Agencies

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what measures he has taken to ensure that the North West Regional Development Agency consults local authorities in non- assisted areas within the region. [101344]

7 Dec 1999 : Column: 485W

Ms Beverley Hughes [holding answer 6 December 1999]: RDAs are expected to consult regularly with all local authorities in their regions and we will expect them to continue to consult on their activities as these progress.

Most recently, the North West Development Agency consulted with local authorities and other regional partners in drawing up its regional strategy.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what guidance he has given to regional development agencies on discharging of their statutory obligation to promote sustainable development in their regional economic strategies. [101697]

Ms Beverley Hughes: Guidance on the formulation of the strategies was issued to the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) on 31 March 1999. This outlined how the RDAs should seek to meet their statutory duty under Section 4 of the RDAs Act 1998, to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development in the UK, where it is relevant to its area to do so.

The guidance specifies that an appraisal of the contribution the strategy will make to sustainable development should be produced.

In addition to the guidance on RDAs' strategies, the Government have issued supplementary guidance to advise the RDAs more fully on sustainable development issues.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how the regional economic strategies of the regional development agencies will be monitored to ensure that the regional development agencies conform with statutory guidance (a) to take account of the needs of rural areas and (b) to promote sustainable development. [101698]

Ms Beverley Hughes: As set out in the guidance to RDAs on the formulation of their strategies, the Government Offices for the Region will provide the focus for an on-going dialogue with Government as each strategy develops and is reviewed. They will also provide a means of ensuring that each strategy enhances and supports national policies and programmes.

Next Section Index Home Page