HC Deb 11 December 1974 vol 883 cc498-9
10. Sir John Gilmour

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the city of Edinburgh has applied for a licence for the dumping of sewage sludge in the estuary of the Forth under the terms of the Dumping at Sea Act 1974; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown

Yes, Sir. The corporation has applied for such a licence. My right hon. Friend has decided that this dumping can be allowed under strict control and he proposes to grant a licence subject to conditions which he is now considering.

Sir J. Gilmour

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that people in Fife, particularly those in the fishing industry, object to the dumping of effluent from Edinburgh loos off their coast? Does the hon. Gentleman think it right to grant borrowing powers for a ship to deposit this sludge before the application for a licence has been made?

Mr. Brown

The hon. Gentleman and I have had regular sessions debating this fascinating subject. He knows that Fife loos deposit sewage into the Forth— [Interruption.] I do not know whether there is any difference between the two types of effluent. That is a matter of opinion. The hon. Gentleman knows that, time and again, we have offered to consult the fishermen of Fife to see whether we can arrive at an alternative site that will satisfy the needs of both Fife and Edinburgh loos.

Mr. Dalyell

Can it be confirmed that since the coming into office of the enlightened Labour administration Edinburgh is no longer a city which at festival time powders its nose and for the rest of the year forgets to wipe its bottom?

Mr. Brown

I shall not even attempt to compete with that. To introduce a serious note, I am sure the House will appreciate the steps that have been taken by Edinburgh. Approval in principle has already been given by the Secretary of State, and the vessel has been ordered. The least important part is the technicality of seeking the actual licence. There is still time to reach agreement on a negotiated site. That is what it all amounts to.

Sir J. Gilmour

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible opportunity.

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