HC Deb 19 December 1990 vol 183 cc276-7
5. Mrs. Irene Adams

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make it his policy to take full account of the views of the community when considering whether to license the incinerator plant at Renfrew.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton)

I congratulate the hon. Lady on her election as Member for Paisley, North.

In considering the application from Cleveland Fuels Ltd., account will be taken of all relevant considerations received in response to public consultation.

Mrs. Adams

Now that the Secretary of State is in his new post, when will he stop shuffling the matter round his desk and come back with an answer for not only the people of Renfrew, but the people of Yoker, Govan, Dumbarton and Paisley, who will all be affected by the emissions into the atmosphere from the plant, which is now burning 1.8 tonnes of toxic waste per hour? When will he come back with a decision on that? Will he assure us that planning permission will not be granted under the present terms for which it has been applied?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

The answer is as soon as possible. Her Majesty's industrial pollution inspectorate will be dealing with that matter under the general practice of determining such issues by delegated responsibility. The inspectorate will deal with air pollution, while representa tions on planning matters, such as noise and traffic effects, are for the planning authorities—there is a distinction. There are detailed, complex matters to be resolved. I understand that Glasgow district council has said that there are higher-than-expected levels of sulphur dioxide in the Scotstown district of the city. The causes of that are being investigated and will be taken into account before a decision is made. I can confirm that no decision has yet been made and the issues are being seriously considered.

Mr. McFall

Does the Minister know that I, too, have a constituency concern in this matter? A local whisky plant, J and B, has a blending plant at Renfrew. The company is extremely concerned at the siting of the incinerator plant. Will the Minister look at the comments of the regional chemist, who is worried about breaches of health and safety regulations because of the dioxins and other acidic materials that are being released? Will he listen to hon. Members and their constituents and hold a public inquiry before the matter goes any further?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

I am certainly aware of the dioxin emissions. Apparently, traces of dioxins are formed when organic materials are burnt in the presence of chlorine, but I am informed that the rate of production can be minimised. Any registration granted in respect of a chemical incinerator or a comparable activity would include the condition that the required standards should be achieved. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 will be implemented as soon as possible. Last year, we went into those issues in detail in Committee.