HC Deb 26 April 1972 vol 835 cc1534-5
22. Mr. Trew

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received about cement dust fall-out on Thamesside; and what action his Department is taking as a result.

Mr. Peter Walker

I have been receiving from the Chief Alkali and Clean Air Inspector special reports at two-monthly intervals on emissions of dust from the cement works at North fleet. I am asking North fleet Urban District Council for further evidence and shall consider in the light of this whether further action is required.

Mr. Trew

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that answer. In view of the Second Report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution which disputes the need for confidentiality, will he give special consideration to giving local authorities a statutory right to information about the amount of emission from individual chimneys?

Mr. Walker

I am well aware of the immense red dust problem in my hon. Friend's constituency, because for six years I attempted to win the constituency and I know it rather well. I will consider his proposals.

Mr. Delargy

Will the right hon. Gentleman insist that everything possible is done for the people who live in the cement dust areas such as West Thurrock where there is more cement dust than anywhere else in the world? Does he appreciate that I have been questioning various Governments about this matter for more than 20 years? Does he realise that the people in the area do not believe that the nuisance is unavoidable, nor do they believe that everything possible is being done to protect them—and nor do I?

Mr. Walker

I realise that this is an immense problem on Thamesside which causes a great deal of distress to people living in that area. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I shall do everything possible to speed up the programme.

Mr. Roger White

Since modern techniques of cement production are now bringing new problems, has my right hon. Friend any plans to extend the terms of reference, and above all to increase the powers, of the Alkali Inspectorate?

Mr. Walker

I shall examine this suggestion and will try to arrange ministerial discussions with leaders of the cement industry to see how speedily progress can be made.

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