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Wiggin warns of `missing' toxic waste.

Byline: By Jonathan Walker Political Editor

Nearly 700,000 tonnes of toxic waste has gone missing after new European rules made it harder to dispose of legally, a Midland MP has warned.

Regulations designed to protect the environment may have led to waste being dumped in the countryside.

The warning was issued by the Commons Environment Committee, which includes Herefordshire MP Bill Wiggin (Con Leominster).

It accused the Government of failing to give business the advice and information it needed to dispose of waste legally.

The problem is a result of the EU Landfill Directive, which came into effect last July and was designed to ensure toxic waste was disposed of safely.

This said that toxic waste could only be taken to specialist landfill sites. The result is that most tips can only accept non-hazardous waste.

In the West Midlands, the annual production of hazardous waste is 541,574 tonnes, while processing capacity is just 100,000 tonnes - a shortfall of 441,574 tonnes.

The committee heard evidence from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the CBI, the Environment Agency and local councils.

In a report published yesterday, it said: ``The committee received evidence that nearly 700,000 tonnes of hazardous waste is unaccounted for.

``This could have a number of serious outcomes, which can be tackled in the short term through more effective enforcement of regulation.''

The MPs criticised the Government for agreeing to the European directive before it had actually been written.

Ministers signed up to it in 1999, but the new rules were only finalised in 2003.

The MPs said: ``The Government must in future avoid, wherever possible, agreeing to new European legislation without a full understanding of the details of how such agreements will be interpreted and implemented.''

Government had also failed to offer businesses useful advice on how to dispose of waste, the MPs said.

``Government has the principal responsibility to ensure that legislative proposals, information and guidance are produced early enough to be helpful, and in the clearest possible form.

``We are not convinced, from the evidence we received, that they have done so in respect to information about waste policy, especially for waste producers.''

The report also warned that landfill taxes might have to increase to pay for the safe disposal of toxic waste.

And it said the Government could be forced to build more incinerators, despite public opposition

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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 18, 2005
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