Waste minister Dan Rogerson has said protecting waste businesses from fires and criminal activity is a priority, following criticism that the Environment Agency (EA) is ‘haemorrhaging good staff’.
Speaking at a House of Commons debate, Lib Dem MP Sir Alan Beith reiterated claims that the EA had failed to deal with a fire at a Northumberland carpet recycling facility.
Rogerson said he had had three meetings with the EA over waste fires in the last six months, and had discussed the matter with EA chairman Chris Smith over the “awful fire and the mismanagement of the site”.
But Labour MP Barry Sheerman, co-chair of the Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resources Group, warned the EA had been “haemorrhaging good staff”.
He said: “It is very important that we curb the cowboys and poor operators in the waste sector who do so much damage to our environment, but we just have not got the people or the resources in the EA to do that properly now.”
In response Rogerson said the EA had “excellent staff” who were working “very hard on these issues”.
He pointed to the recent Budget statement that made an extra £5m available to tackle waste crime.
He added: “It is a priority for the Government, and we should ensure that the businesses that operate effectively, fairly and safely are protected from those that act unscrupulously. That is why we are investing extra money in tackling this issue.”
In early March Rogerson said he wanted to introduce a bond or other arrangement for waste companies so that money was available for waste fire and pollution incidences.