HC Deb 25 November 1970 vol 807 cc129-30W
25. Mr. Hamling

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what further steps he will now take to stop the discharge of chemicals and untreated sewage into seas and rivers, and to prevent pollution by exhaust fumes from aircraft and motor vehicles.

Mr. Peter Walker

River authorities have powers to control all discharges to non-tidal rivers and some discharges to estuaries. I am now considering the recommendation of the Working Party on Sewage Disposal for the extension of full control to all estuaries and to the sea.

The National Gas Turbine Establishment has a continuing research programme on the reduction of exhaust emissions from aircraft engines; engine manufacturers are also contributing to this programme.

I am considering the possibility of further controls on vehicle exhaust fumes. I shall also shortly publish proposals to require all new lorries with diesel engines to meet a British Standard which lays down limits for smoke.

69. Mr. Charles Morrison

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the effect of increased pollution on river ecology during the recent strike by local authority employees; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Walker

I have consulted all 24 river authorities in England—including Severn and Wye. Only seven have reported ecological effects.

Apart from the temporary growth of sewage fungus and the loss of some invertebrates, fish were killed in a total of about 60 river miles comprising short lengths of five major rivers and some minor rivers. The seven river authorities concerned control pollution in over 8,000 miles of rivers with a flow of 1 million gallons a day or more; the 24, in over 21,000 miles.

With few exceptions, the lengths affected have already completely recovered or should do so within a matter of months; but in three or four places it will take three to six years, if the process is left to nature, before fish of the same size are re-established.

95. Mr. Murray

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will introduce legislation to enable local authorities to obtain adequate finance to take positive measures against pollution in their localities.

Mr. Peter Walker

If the hon. Member has a particular case in mind I shall be glad to consider it, as will my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Scotland, if it concerns a Scottish local authority.

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