HL Deb 07 March 1987 vol 487 cc130-2

3.18 p.m.

Baroness Nicol

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they are giving to the Watch Trust for Environmental Education in the continuation of its project on acid rain, and whether they are encouraging other youth organisations on projects to mark European Year of the Environment.

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, the Government approved last year a grant of £23, 667 to support this worthwhile project and I am glad that I am able to tell the House that we have now agreed to make a further £10, 000 available in the current year.

The United Kingdom European Year of the Environment Committee regard it as particularly important to involve school children and young people in the year. As part of this it is making a grant of £5, 000 towards the cost of extending the Watch Project to other European countries during the year.

Baroness Nicol

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. I know that the Watch Trust too will be very grateful for what he has just said. Does he agree—I think he does from his answer—that it is important in terms of environmental care for the future that we should involve young people and do everything we can to draw in as many as possible? Can he say whether further grants will be forthcoming for Watch, because the sum which he has just mentioned, generous though it is, is something like 50 per cent. of the amount it has asked for?

Lord Skelmersdale

No, my Lords; I understand that it is in the region of 75 per cent. and that Watch asked for about 16, 500 for the current year. As I said in my original Answer, the Government are giving £10, 000. The project has attracted a considerable amount of private sector sponsorship—in excess of £40, 000—which is why the individual packs are remarkably cheap. The involvement of young people generally in the European Year of the Environment is a distinct project of the British Committee for the European Year.

Lord Hunt

My Lords, with regard to the second part of the noble Baroness's Question, does the Minister agree that the BBC provides a splendid service for education in environmental and wildlife programmes, especially for young people, through some of the episodes of its "Blue Peter" series? Is he aware of the excellent work done by young people through the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers and by the national park authorities through their information and interpretation centres, which are visited by many thousands of young people from schools and youth organisations?

Lord Skelmersdale

Yes, my Lords. I certainly agree with both the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt. The Government are most grateful for the work of my noble friend Lord Buxton, who chairs the media panel of the European Year of the Environment Committee. The "Blue Peter" series and also the "Wild Side of Town" programmes on BBC2 have made a tremendous environmental impact among children. There has also been Television South-West coverage, more BBC 2 coverage and coverage by Yorkshire Television, and Super Channel satellite television is screening or preparing a series of programmes directly related to the theme. I too have seen BTCV projects involving young people and I regard them as very valuable both as social programmes and as environmental programmes.

Lord Gladwyn

My Lords, to what extent are the recipients of this poison—notably Norway and Germany—blaming us for its production?

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, to a certain extent. I received a delegation from Norway at the end of last year on exactly this subject and I had to make the point that not only is this transboundary pollution but there is also a certain amount produced in the countries which are themselves complaining.

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