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3 million tonnes of hazardous waste missing - Doughty

September 21, 2004 12:00 AM

England and Wales are facing a massive hazardous waste crisis following the Government's incompetence in implementing the 1999 Landfill Directive in July.

Latest Government figures show that in 2002 4.8 million tonnes of hazardous waste were produced across England and Wales. Because of the rule changes in July, there is currently only capacity to deal with 1.8m tonnes, leaving a massive shortfall of 3m tonnes of toxic and potentially lethal hazardous waste with literally nowhere to go. Ministers have no idea where this extra hazardous waste is being dumped.

Regionally the areas with the greatest shortfall in processing capacity are:

1. Wales 682,090 tonnes shortfall

2. Yorks and the Humber 617,390 tonnes shortfall

3. South East 467,678 tonnes shortfall

4. London 458,579 tonnes shortfall

5. West Midlands 441,574 tonnes shortfall

Only two regions, the East Midlands and the South West, have any spare hazardous waste processing capacity. This could mean lorry loads of waste being transported from the areas with a shortfall across the country.

Speaking to the Liberal Democrat autumn conference, Sue Doughty MP, Lib Dem Shadow Environment Minister, will warn that the severe lack of capacity for dealing with hazardous waste could also lead to a huge rise in illegal fly-tipping.

Sue Doughty will call on the Government to make a statement in the House of Commons to explain its failure to deal with the issue. She will say:

"The hazardous waste crisis we are facing the country is the direct result of serious incompetence by DEFRA. It is scandalous that the Government had five years to prepare for the new rules under the 1999 Landfill Directive, but failed to make sure there were specialist facilities ready in time.

"The result could be devastating for regions of England and Wales, with a huge rise in illegal fly-tipping by cowboy waste contractors. Serious questions must be asked of Ministers to where this waste is going, what damage it could be doing to the environment and what threat it could be to human health.

"The Government must tackle the hazardous waste crisis before the environment suffers irreparable damage. Small and medium sized businesses desperately need support and information and the Environment Agency must be given adequate resources to deal with the inevitable increase in fly-tipping."