Examination of Witnesses (Questions 200
TUESDAY 31 OCTOBER 2000
200. In your written evidence you say you want
there to be much more discussion at a regional level on sustainable
waste management strategies, how do you think that should be done
given the emerging regional structures?
(Mr Price) I think this is yet to be defined. The
regional structures which are appearing in different parts of
the country are not the same one to the other. I chair the Regional
Technical Advisory Body for the South West, and the South West
Region Planning Conference is the parent which gave birth to this
particular association of people. It is now styling itself the
South West Assembly and it will be taking a very keen interest
in waste issues and we have yet to see how they will approach
it. I am absolutely certain they will want to follow what I consider
to be good advice in PPG 10 on that issue which will open for
public discussion the realities of the issues which have to be
faced at regional level. There are dilemmas because there is no
executive function at regional level at the moment, and I do not
think there can be top-down imposition over that sort of structure
of authorities which have the statutory powers for making decisions
about what waste management facilities should be provided and
where they will be allowed to happen.
201. Would you see the regional chambers and
regional assemblies as appropriate fora for discussing those regional
(Mr Price) There is an important regional role but
it needs to be built on a bottom-up as well as a top-down basis.
Certainly in my region, the South West, which has a very extensive
geography, we need to see sub-regional associations of authorities
coming to some clear view themselves on how they think their waste
should be managed at the same time as the region is formulating
its thoughts on the issue.
202. But there has been a lot of criticism of
the Regional Technical Advisory Bodies, has there not? Would they
not be improved by relating to the regional chambers more clearly?
(Mr Price) Yes, of course they would. If there is
criticism I think it is probably misplaced. I did say PPG 10 does
no more than suggest that they come into being and that is not
a very strong foundation for their successful future. More seriously,
much more seriously, they have been very seriously inhibited by
the non-availability of information at the regional level. Many
RTABs, my own included, have done extensive work with their own
local authority constituent authorities to try to get a picture
of household waste. We await the results of the 1998 industrial
and commercial survey from the Agency, the strategic waste management
assessments are at last promised in the very near future now,
and that is the absolute foundation. Without information, you
cannot start the planning process.
(Mr Hockney) We had an earlier discussion about Redhill
and about the problems that Redhill might experience because waste
management facilities might be concentrated there for a wider
area. You can write the same issue larger at regional level. Whether
regional bodies are given executive powers, whether RTABs are
given a much better working relationship and stronger guidance,
is one matter, but at the end of the day there will still be a
debate at regional level as to where specialist regional facilities
should be located. One can imagine some very difficult decisions
having to be made by representatives of certain parts of regions
who would be being asked to accept waste, maybe hazardous or specialist
waste as well as household and domestic waste, to process in their
areas on behalf of a wider region. I see that as an important
issue which has to be resolved, even if the responsibilities and
the powers for RTABs and regional bodies are strengthened and
clarified in the waste arena.
203. How can that be resolved in terms of public
(Mr Hockney) I think we are back again to the issue
of education, information and debate. Whether we are talking about
an individual community, whether we are talking about a larger
town or a region, there still is amongst the wider community a
general misunderstanding about waste issues. Until there is ownership
of a national waste strategy by everybody from the parish to the
region, we are not going to be able to overcome some of these
concerns, possibly justifiable concerns, about certain waste management
processes. "Why should I have the process and why should
it not be down the road for the people who are generating the
204. Perhaps we should be calling the waste
a raw material and putting in factories to take the raw material
and then you could get round the public perception.
(Mr Price) Absolutely.
Chairman: I am afraid at that point I will have
to cut off this session but thank you very much for your evidence.