§ The Minister for the Environment and Countryside (Mr. David Trippier)
I have received several representations, including some from my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Amos), whom I met to discuss the issue early this week. I also met delegations from Cowie and Chirk at the same meeting.
§ Mr. Amos
Pursuant to the meeting between my hon. Friend and the delegation from Hexham on Monday, may I express the thanks of the people of Hexham to my hon. Friend for so promptly establishing a system of air pollution control to deal with emissions from the Egger factory, without in any way affecting the commercial viability or economic success of the factory? While asking him to look sympathetically at the few outstanding items of detail, may I urge him to accept that this has brought about a real improvement—at long last—for my constituents in the Hexham area? Is not this yet another example of how the Government listen and take prompt and effective action, compared with the Opposition, who promise everything and do nothing?
§ Mr. Trippier
I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for his kind remarks. I congratulate him on his leadership of the three delegations that I saw early this week. I am delighted to tell him that I shall respond in detail to the outstanding matters that were discussed at our earlier meeting and I am confident that my letter will please him.
§ Mr. Speller
May I ask my hon. Friend also to bear it in mind that there are other chipboard factories throughout the country? There is a large one in South Molton, which has always co-operated fully with the local authority. This year it received a clean bill of health and intends to keep it that way. It is easy to seek to be especially awkward about anything that appears to be outside the norm of the wonderful green countryside.
§ Mr. Trippier
I entirely accept my hon. Friend's latter point. The purpose of the delegation that came to see me was to try to establish the correct balance between the economic activity that is generated by these important companies and the environment in which they operate. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham has said, the environment in which chipboard companies operate has not been acceptable in recent times. As a result of our discussions and the improvements that have been catalogued in the Environmental Protection Bill, we think that we have the balance right.