Written questions and answers

Written questions allow Members of Parliament to ask government ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of government departments.

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

Find the latest written questions and answers for the 2017-19 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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Unique Identifying Number – Every written question in the House of Commons has a UIN per Parliament. In the House of Lords each written questions has a UIN per parliamentary session.
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Q
Asked by Jim Shannon
(Strangford)
Asked on: 27 November 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Bottles: Recycling
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has had discussions with companies producing the drinks Ribena and Lucozade to make their bottles recyclable.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 05 December 2017

I met representatives of the soft drinks industry on 24 October to discuss increasing recycling and reducing the littering of drinks containers. A representative of Lucozade Ribena Suntory was present at the meeting.

The meeting was to inform our approach to plastic bottles and coffee cups and to support the Voluntary and Economic Incentives Working Group with their inquiry into increasing recycling and reducing littering of on-the-go drinks containers.

Q
(Washington and Sunderland West)
Asked on: 27 November 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Waste Disposal: North East
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many complaints the Environment Agency received about waste transfer sites that accepted waste in 2016 in the North East on (a) all environmental issues, (b) littering and (c) fly-tipping, and how many sites attracted such complaints.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 05 December 2017

The Environment Agency received 6 complaints relating to waste transfer stations in the North East in 2016. Of these, one complaint related to littering and no complaints related to fly-tipping. These complaints related to 9 sites.

Q
(Washington and Sunderland West)
Asked on: 27 November 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Waste Disposal: North East
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many enforcement measures the Environment Agency implemented in (a) the North East and (b) each other English region in relation to breaches of (a) all environmental permits, (b) littering and (c) fly-tipping.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 05 December 2017

The Environment Agency (EA) identified 821 waste permit breaches in its North East operational area in 2016 which required corrective action to be undertaken by waste site operators. The total number of waste permit breaches in England in 2016 was 11,664. The EA does not record this information according to Office of National Statistics English region boundaries.

The EA does not hold data for permit breaches in relation to littering and fly-tipping which are the responsibility of local authorities.

Q
Asked by Holly Lynch
(Halifax)
Asked on: 27 November 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastics: Pollution
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the primary routes by which single-use plastics enter UK seas and rivers.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 05 December 2017

A study in 2016 showed that of the estimated 12.2 million tonnes of plastic entering the global marine environment every year, 9.5 million tonnes (over 80%) came from land based sources. The report identified larger plastic litter, including single use plastics such as drinks bottles, and other types of plastic packaging as the main source of plastics entering the seas. Much of this plastic will have been washed into the seas down rivers. The conclusions of this report are consistent with the findings of UK marine litter monitoring supported by Defra.

The two reports can be found at:

http://www.eunomia.co.uk/reports-tools/plastics-in-the-marine-environment/

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/marine-strategy-part-three-uk-programme-of-measures

Q
(Washington and Sunderland West)
Asked on: 27 November 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Waste Disposal: North East
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many waste transfer sites with an environmental permit in the North East of England have been in breach of the requirements of their permit in the last five years and if he will publish the reasons for the breaches in those permits.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 04 December 2017

The Environment Agency does not record permit breaches in a way which enables it to report on the total number of waste transfer stations which have been in breach of their permit requirements in the last five years.

The table below provides a breakdown of the number of breaches of permits at waste transfer stations in the North East of England in the last five years and the reasons for the breaches to those permits. Poor performing sites may have multiple condition breaches recorded in one visit.

Description of condition breach

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

a1 Specified by permit

10

18

25

28

26

b1 Infrastructure-engineering for prevent. of emissions

4

9

24

20

14

b2 Infrastructure-closure and decommissioning

0

2

0

0

0

b3 Infrastructure-site drainage engineering

13

6

17

7

7

b4 Infrastructure-containment of stored materials

6

16

29

29

29

b5 Infrastructure-plant and equipment

1

1

1

5

2

c1 General Management-staff competency/training

3

10

26

20

19

c2 General Management-management systems

14

44

45

50

46

c3 General Management-materials acceptance

7

12

13

23

27

c4 General Management-storage, handling etc

33

49

65

56

38

d1 Incident Management-security

7

13

13

3

1

d2 Incident Management-accidents/emergency. planning

0

3

1

5

6

e1 Emissions-air

0

6

4

2

e2 Emissions-land and groundwater

0

1

0

1

1

e3 Emissions-surface water

1

0

0

1

0

e4 Emissions-sewer

0

0

0

0

0

e5 Emissions-waste

0

1

1

1

0

f1 Amenity-odour

10

19

9

3

f2 Amenity-noise

0

0

0

0

2

f3 Amenity-dust/fibres/litter etc

6

8

7

15

13

f4 Amenity-pests/birds/scavengers

17

29

7

11

5

f5 Amenity-deposits on road

4

5

3

4

4

g1 Mon & Records-emissions and environment

0

1

0

0

0

g2 Mon & Records-records of activity/site diary/etc

2

1

2

11

10

g3 Mon & Records-maintenance records

0

0

0

0

0

g4 Mon & Records-reporting and notification. to Agency

7

32

226

100

104

Total

145

286

518

395

354

Asked on: 04 December 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Sky Lanterns
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they treat sky lanterns as a form of litter; if not, why not; and whether they have any plans to ban (1) the use, and (2) the mass release of, sky lanterns.
Q
Asked by Tim Farron
(Westmorland and Lonsdale)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 06 November 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Litter: Fines
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to his Department's press release of 24 October 2017, on new steps to tackle littering, whether he plans for funds raised from the increase in litter fines to be used to tackle (a) fly-tipping on farmland and (b) other local environmental issues.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 13 November 2017

Councils may spend the income from fixed penalties issued for littering offences on their functions relating to litter (including keeping their relevant land clear of litter and refuse, keeping relevant highways clean, and enforcement against littering) and on enforcement against graffiti and fly-posting offences.

This spending may include spending on communications and education to abate littering, or on the provision of bins and other street litter disposal infrastructure, but will not include actions specifically to tackle fly-tipping on farmland.

There are no restrictions on how councils can use income from fixed penalties issued for fly-tipping offences.

Q
Asked by Andrew Gwynne
(Denton and Reddish)
Asked on: 20 October 2017
Department for Transport
Roads: Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will take steps to introduce a key performance indicator for litter in the Road Investment Strategy.
A
Answered by: Jesse Norman
Answered on: 27 October 2017

We are in the process of developing the second Road Investment Strategy with Highways England.

Q
Asked by Lord Greaves
Asked on: 12 October 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Beverage Containers: Recycling
Lords
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the finding in the report by Eunomia published on 11 October, Impacts of a Deposit Refund System for one-way beverage packaging on local authority waste services, that a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles and other drinks containers would be likely to yield overall net savings for English local authorities, once other factors such as the likely impact on residual waste arisings are taken into account; and whether they intend to introduce such a scheme.
A
Answered on: 24 October 2017

We have not made a formal assessment of the findings in the report by Eunomia published on 11 October. The report will help the work of the Voluntary and Economic Incentives Working Group, which was established as part of the Litter Strategy for England, to examine specific voluntary and/or regulatory interventions that can reduce the incidence of commonly littered items and improve recycling and reuse of packaging.

On 2 October, this government launched a call for evidence to inform the Working Group on measures to reduce littering of drinks containers and promote recycling. The call for evidence closes on 30 October and includes questions on the costs, benefits and impacts of deposit and reward and return schemes.

The Working Group is due to provide us with advice on potential incentives for drinks containers early in 2018.

Q
(Easington)
Asked on: 16 October 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Beverage Containers: Recycling
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to increase the level of recycling of single use drinks containers.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 20 October 2017

Our policies and regulations – such as the Packaging Waste Regulations – are designed to increase recycling and reduce the amount of packaging ending up in the natural environment.

As part of the Litter Strategy for England, the Government has established the Voluntary and Economic Incentives Working Group. As its first piece of work, we have asked the Working Group to look at regulatory or voluntary measures to reduce littering and/or improve the recycling of drinks containers.

On 2 October the Working Group launched a call for evidence which remains open until 30 October. The call for evidence includes questions on the costs, benefits and impacts of deposit and reward and return schemes. The Group is due to provide us with advice on potential incentives for drinks containers early in 2018.

The Government will set out a new Resources and Waste Strategy in 2018. It will set out how we will work towards our ambition for zero avoidable waste by 2050.

Q
Asked by Royston Smith
(Southampton, Itchen)
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dogs: Animal Breeding
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what information his Department holds on the number of dog breeding premises operating without a licence.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 18 October 2017

Defra does not hold official statistics on the number of dog breeders and pet shops operating without a licence. Defra is currently in the process of developing a new single animal activities licensing regime. The regulations will be laid in Parliament before they come into force next year. The new regime will reduce the threshold by which people will need a dog breeding licence from five litters or more per year to three litters or more per year. This should result in more dog breeders requiring a licence. The new regime will make it clear for local authorities which individual activities need to be licensed.

Grouped Questions: 106736
Q
Asked by Chris Evans
(Islwyn)
Asked on: 09 October 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Pets: Shops
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the prevalence of unlicensed (a) dog breeding and (b) pet shops in the UK.
A
Answered by: George Eustice
Answered on: 18 October 2017

Defra does not hold official statistics on the number of dog breeders and pet shops operating without a licence. Defra is currently in the process of developing a new single animal activities licensing regime. The regulations will be laid in Parliament before they come into force next year. The new regime will reduce the threshold by which people will need a dog breeding licence from five litters or more per year to three litters or more per year. This should result in more dog breeders requiring a licence. The new regime will make it clear for local authorities which individual activities need to be licensed.

Grouped Questions: 106512
Q
Asked by Vernon Coaker
(Gedling)
Asked on: 12 October 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastics: Seas and Oceans
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what progress the Government has made on international steps to tackle plastic pollution in the oceans; and if he will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 18 October 2017

At the recent Our Ocean conference the UK made several voluntary commitments to help tackle marine plastic pollution. These included signing up to the UN’s Clean Seas campaign, the Global Partnership on Marine Litter and the Global Ghost Gear Initiative. These programmes aim to transform habits, practices, standards and policies around the globe to reduce marine plastic pollution and the harm it causes.

Q
(Bristol East)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 14 September 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Balloons and Sky Lanterns: Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take steps to bring forward legislative proposals to classify the intentional outdoor release of (a) helium-filled balloons and (b) sky lanterns for commemorative, social or publicity events as acts of littering under current legislation.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 09 October 2017

There are no plans to bring forward legislation to classify the intentional outdoor release of helium-filled balloons and sky lanterns as acts of littering. Councils in England already have powers under the 1990 Environmental Protection Act to take an individual to court if they believe them to be guilty of a littering offence or, as an alternative, they may issue a Fixed Penalty Notice.

Q
Asked by Chi Onwurah
(Newcastle upon Tyne Central)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 11 September 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fly-tipping and Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment the Government has made of the capacity of local authorities to respond to incidents of littering and fly-tipping
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 15 September 2017

The majority of local authority spending is financed by non-ringfenced income, which councils themselves decide how to spend. The Government has not made an assessment of the capacity of local authorities to respond to incidents of littering and fly-tipping. Local authorities have responsibility for tackling littering and fly-tipping and it is up to them to decide how best to do this and how to prioritise it against the provision of other local services.

Q
Asked by Chi Onwurah
(Newcastle upon Tyne Central)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 11 September 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fly-tipping and Litter
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to reduce littering and fly-tipping.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 14 September 2017

The Government published the first Litter Strategy for England on 10 April, setting out our aim to clean up the country.

Our strategy is to apply best practice in education, enforcement and infrastructure to deliver a substantial reduction in litter and littering behaviour within a generation. The common aim of all the actions in the Litter Strategy is to change the behaviour of those who currently feel that it is acceptable to drop litter. The Strategy can be found online at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/litter-strategy-for-england

Fly-tipping is unacceptable as it blights the areas where it occurs, imposes costs on those whose land is affected, can pose a risk to the environment or human health and it affects the livelihoods of those involved in the legitimate waste management business.

We are committed to tackling fly-tipping and the Government has:

  • given local authorities in England the power to issue fixed penalty notices of up to £400 for small-scale fly-tipping, providing local authorities with an alternative to prosecutions and helping them take a proportionate enforcement response;

  • made it easier for vehicles suspected of being involved in waste crime to be stopped, searched and seized;

  • cracked down on offenders by strengthening the Sentencing Council’s Guideline for environmental offences, which came into force on 1 July 2014;

  • strengthened the waste duty of care by publishing a revised Waste Duty of Care Code of Practice, that provides guidance to local authorities, regulators, waste industry and all those that produce, keep, import, treat, have control or dispose of controlled waste on how to comply with their waste duty of care obligations;

  • supported the industry-led Right Waste Right Place campaign to promote Duty of Care to small businesses. The campaign will be targeting construction, retail and agricultural businesses; and

  • chaired the National Fly-Tipping Prevention Group (NFTPG) to prevent and tackle illegal dumping. The NFTPG includes representatives from central and local Government, enforcement authorities, the waste industry, and private landowners. The NFTPG has published a Fly-tipping Partnership Framework outlining best practice for the prevention, reporting, investigation and clearance of fly-tipping to be adapted to suit local circumstances, and a series of fly-tipping prevention guides for householders, businesses and landowners.

Q
Asked by Liz McInnes
(Heywood and Middleton)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 11 September 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Bottles: Recycling
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans he has to introduce a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles to increase recycling rates.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 14 September 2017

As part of the Litter Strategy for England that was published in April this year, we have established a working group to look at different voluntary and economic incentives to improve the recycling and reuse of packaging, and to reduce the incidence of commonly littered items. As well as voluntary models, the scope of the working group includes consideration of regulatory options and measures to target particular types of item or product, including the full cost impacts and benefits of different types of deposit and reward and return schemes for drink containers including plastic bottles. This working group will be consulting widely in developing its evidence base and analysis.

Q
(Hendon)
Asked on: 13 July 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Marine Environment: Developing Countries
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what voluntary initiatives his Department has implemented under the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 14.
A
Answered by: Dr Thérèse Coffey
Answered on: 04 September 2017

The United Kingdom has made four voluntary commitments under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 on the following topics:

  • Marine science. The UK has pledged to work actively with international partners in a range of major issues such as strengthening global ocean observations, world ocean assessments and data sharing.

  • Marine Litter. The UK has committed to several actions in order to combat marine litter. These include reducing the volume of single use plastic bags, the introduction of national litter strategies and banning microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products. The UK has also signed up to the UN Clean Seas Initiative.

  • Commonwealth Marine Economies (CME) Programme. The UK has committed to delivering a package of measures that will help to provide Commonwealth Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean regions with accurate hydrographic and scientific date relating to their marine environment. The UK will also provide training and capacity building for national bodies involved in the research and management of marine resources, to enable them to use the data to promote economic growth and development.

  • Marine Protected Areas in the UK and our Overseas Territories. The UK has committed to ensuring that UK waters are managed and used in a sustainable way, including by working internationally with our Overseas Territories in order to protect the globally significant biodiversity found in their waters

A more detailed summary of the commitments of the United Kingdom and other States and organisations is at https://oceanconference.un.org/commitments/

Q
Asked on: 20 July 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastics: Recycling
Lords
Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to (1) reduce waste going to landfill, and (2) increase recycling of plastic cups and bottles.
A
Answered on: 03 August 2017

As a country we are moving away from landfill to more environmentally beneficial and higher value uses for waste. We are making good progress with diverting waste from landfill with the amount of local authority waste in England going to landfill falling by over 70% between 2000/01 and 2015/16. Landfill tax is the main driver in diverting residual waste from landfill and is currently £86.10 per tonne.

Defra is also investing £3 billion in a number of local authority projects through Waste Infrastructure Grants. This is contributing towards the reduction of waste sent to landfill, promoting renewable energy, recycling and stimulating growth.

England has already achieved a lot in the area of recycling, increasing household recycling from 11% in 2000 to 44% in 2015.

In September 2016, the Waste and Resources Action Programme and an industry advisory group published a framework for greater consistency, encouraging councils to recycle a common set of materials, as well as setting out actions to rationalise packaging, particularly plastics, into items that can be collected for recycling while supporting innovation in packaging design.

Current Packaging policies and regulations have resulted in recycling of packaging rising from around 46% in 2005 to 60% in 2015. We have also announced our intention to increase obligated businesses’ packaging recycling targets to over 75% by 2020. As part of this, we have made great progress in boosting recycling rates for plastic bottles. Their collection for recycling has increased dramatically, from less than 13,000 tonnes in 2000 to over 330,000 tonnes in 2015, and almost all local councils now collect plastic bottles as part of their general waste collection services.

As part of the Litter Strategy for England, published on 10 April, we have established a working group to look at different voluntary and economic incentives to improve recycling and reuse of packaging, and to reduce the incidence of commonly littered items. The working group’s first investigation will consider voluntary models or regulatory options and measures to target drinks containers, including plastic bottles.

Q
Asked on: 20 July 2017
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Plastics: Recycling
Lords
Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with business regarding incentives to reduce the use of non-recyclable plastic bottles and cups; and what, if any, such incentives they are planning to introduce.
A
Answered on: 03 August 2017

Plastic bottles and plastic cups are usually recyclable. More than 45 packaging companies and retailers are working together through the Paper Cup Manifesto to significantly increase paper cup recycling by 2020.

As part of our Litter Strategy we have established a working group to look at potential voluntary and regulatory measures to reduce litter and improve recycling behaviour by consumers. This working group is looking at drinks containers.

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