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Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I want to confirm, so that it is on the record, that the full range of organisations, examples of which the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, gave, are being consulted.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: I thank the Minister for that. I hope that the Members of the Committee will have that information so that they can distribute it. I am sure that they will. I am sure the Minister will take note of what we have discussed. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Greaves moved Amendment No. 83:

"(e) assess the extent to which there is sufficient capacity in measures other than landfill for the handling of biodegradable waste."

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 83 refers to a related matter: the after use of treated biodegradable wastes. It concerns whether there is an adequate market for it and whether the capacity is there, rather than whether or not it is safe. Amendment No. 110, in the same group, refers to Wales in identical terms. I do not know why there is not an amendment relating to Scotland and Northern Ireland but at least it means that I shall have my knuckles rapped only once and not three times.

The amendment relates to Clause 16, "Strategy for England", which states:

    "The Secretary of State must have a strategy for reducing—

    (a) the amount of biodegradable waste".

It also states:

    "Before formulating policy for the purposes"—

of the strategy,

    "the Secretary of State must",

do various things. The amendment adds that the Secretary of State must assess the extent to which there is sufficient capacity in measures other than landfill for the handling of biodegradable waste.

Although the Bill outlines the requirements for strategies for dealing with biodegradable waste in Clauses 16 to 19, including measures to achieve the targets by,

    "recycling, composting, biogas production, materials recovery or energy recovery",

important consideration also needs to be given in the strategy to the potential capacity of end markets and end users to absorb the wastes and products. Principally the concern relates to the extent of the market, particularly in agriculture, to utilise treated, biodegradable wastes, whether they are compost or the digestate which is the result of the processes that the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, was waxing lyrical about yesterday, or indeed other processes.

Often, application to agricultural land may be seen as the least additional cost option to land-filling, either as an organic fertiliser or a soil conditioner. We suggest that there is a need for research into current and potential future wastes that might be applied to agricultural land and the capacity of the land to accommodate such waste region by region, area by

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area. That may be particularly significant given the recent designations and additions of nitrate vulnerable zones, as a result of which farmers are looking hard at their need for a use of soil conditioners and/or organic fertilisers in general.

The question raised is whether the possible end use of treated biodegradable waste on agricultural land is a realistic one, and whether an assessment of the capacity should be on the face of the Bill—something that should be done before strategies for dealing with waste are agreed. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: We set Amendment No. 110 to one side. Amendment No. 83, as the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, said, requires the Government to assess the availability of alternatives. We accept that that is necessary. That took place in the course of producing the Waste Strategy 2000 for England and Wales, and the Strategy Unit's report that was published last month. We fully recognise the need for proper consultation and would want to take into account all the points to which the noble Lord has referred.

The Strategy Unit recommended that DEFRA looks at biowaste. That is an issue that we need to cover in our government response. All the items raised by the noble Lord are extremely important. I hope that I have reassured him that we consult fully, that we have done so in the past, as our record shows, and that we shall do so in future.

Lord Greaves: I am grateful for the Minister's reply. We are calling for research rather than consultation. However, I am reassured by what the Minister has said, and I shall read it carefully. Those issues will come up again as the strategy unfolds over the coming months. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 84 and 85 not moved.]

Lord Greaves had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 86:

    Page 11, line 43, at end insert—

"( ) The Secretary of State must have a strategy for the prevention of fly-tipping and for dealing with fly-tipping."

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 86 would add a further line to the requirements on the Secretary of State in Clause 16 on fly-tipping. During the course of the Committee we have tossed around the issue of fly-tipping adequately, so I shall not move the amendment.

[Amendment No. 86 not moved.]

Clause 16 agreed to.

Clause 17 [Strategy for Scotland]:

[Amendments Nos. 87 to 98 not moved.]

Clause 17 agreed to.

Clause 18 [Strategy for Wales]:

[Amendments Nos. 99 to 111 not moved.]

Clause 18 agreed to.

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Clause 19 [Strategy for Northern Ireland]:

[Amendments Nos. 112 to 123 not moved.]

Clause 19 agreed to.

Clause 20 ["Biodegradable waste" and "municipal waste"]:

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 124:

    Page 14, line 4, leave out from "decomposition" to end of line 6.

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 124 is another of those wonderful examples of my trying to be helpful to the Government. We want to remove some words that do no more than set out examples. Those words are entirely unnecessary to the meaning of the Bill. The Bill states:

    "'biodegradable waste' means any waste that is capable of undergoing anaerobic or aerobic decomposition".

One does not need to specify "such as". That deals with Amendment No. 124.

Amendment No. 125 raises a slightly different point. The Bill mentions,

    "waste that, because of its nature or composition, is similar to waste from households".

Amendment No. 125 states:

    "similar waste from commercial or state-run establishments"—

although I should have preferred the wording "similar waste coming from any other establishment, or from other local authority activities"—

    "but excluding waste from agriculture".

That is our specific point.

Many wastes from agriculture, especially farmyard manure, pig manure and so on, are in fact biodegradable wastes within the meaning of the Bill, which we feel should be specifically excluded so that they cannot be mistaken for being organic waste. I am positive that there is no intention that they should be included within the scope of the Bill, but they are not specifically excluded, as they should be. Even if we have not got the wording of the amendment right, I should be grateful if the noble Baroness would either give an assurance that there is no intention to include them, or say that she will reconsider the wording of the Bill to ensure that they are specifically excluded, if that is what is required.

Amendment No. 128, which is grouped, adds a definition for "inert municipal waste", which the Bill mentions. There should be a definition of that, and so we propose that it,

    "means waste that is not biodegradable within 25 years".

That would help the Bill and people in future, and I ask the noble Baroness carefully to consider the matter. I beg to move.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: I accept what the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, said about Amendment No. 124. Amendment No. 125 on the exclusion of agricultural waste is especially important because the precise nature of agricultural waste is well known. I would go so far as to say that I have spent many

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hours—not necessarily happy hours—spreading it on the land, and it does a lot of good. Amendment No. 125 is therefore perfectly acceptable.

Our amendment, Amendment No. 126, refers to,

    "commercial waste from catering establishments".

That is important because one-third of all food is now consumed within catering establishments and the amount of waste generated is considerable. That is the reason for that amendment.

Amendment No. 127 adds two subsections. One refers to,

    "end of life vehicles",

and the other to,

    "end of life electrical and electronic equipment",

which incorporates EU Directive 75/442/EEC.

It is important to separate out those matters and refer to how they are to be disposed of. We all know the problems, so I shall not repeat them; we have talked enough about that already. I note, understand and support what the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, said about Amendment No. 128 regarding inert municipal waste.

We also tabled Amendment No. 130, which refers to an insertion on page 14, line 31, after "sorting". We want to make absolutely sure that that does not include incineration. We do not want more incineration.

I believe that Amendment No. 40 is also in this group.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I missed Amendment No. 40 in opening the debate and it might be as well to have it formally laid before the Committee before the noble Lord speaks to it. It is a very small amendment; it would, in fact, simply remove the word "small". However, there is a point to it.

In Clause 24, the Bill mentions:

    "the deposit of non-hazardous dredging sludges alongside small waterways".

The amendment would remove the word "small". What is a small waterway? I can imagine lawyers having a wonderful time with that in future. A ditch is clearly a small waterway when there is water in the bottom of it, but a ditch does not normally carry water all year round. Then there is a stream, a rivulet, and in the north there is something called a beck. Then one gets to a small river, a medium-sized river and a large river. There are waterways where it is entirely appropriate to spread the dredgings on the bank. I have seen that done adequately and sensibly on the banks of medium-sized rivers. The word "small" could reasonably be removed. Perhaps we should have put the words "and insert 'appropriately'" in its place. That would have been rather better.

When I looked at the clause a few moments ago, I saw something that offended me far more than the word "small". I hope that the Minister will forgive me if I mention it. The clause refers to,

    "small waterways from out of which they have been dredged".

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Ugh! We really cannot permit that to go forward. I hope that, if we agree on nothing else in the amendments, we shall agree on that.

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