HC Deb 27 July 1979 vol 971 cc638-9W
Mr. Michael Spicer

asked the Minister of Transport whether he has received the report of the working party on lead in petrol; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Rooker

asked the Minister of Transport when he expects to receive the results of the study of the feasibility and costs of further action regarding the lead content of petrol; and if these will be published.

Mr. Fowler

The report of the working party is being published to-day and I have placed copies in the Library.

The working party consisted of officials of the Departments of Transport, Environment, Energy and Industry, and representatives of the petroleum industry and of motor manufacturers. It was asked to estimate the feasibility and costs of further action to reduce lead emissions from petrol-engined vehicles should this be thought necessary. A working party under the chairmanship of Professor Lawther is considering separately whether there are health grounds for further restricting emissions of lead to the environment from petrol or other sources. This is expected to report later in the year.

The working party attempted to forecast total future levels of lead emissions from vehicles in the absence of further measures. The foreword to the report points out that this work was completed in May and so could take no account of more recent international initiatives to economise in energy consumption. These may in themselves restrain growth of lead emissions. This factor apart, however, the working party concluded that, without further measures, total lead emissions might before long exceed the level reached in 1971.

The working party examined various methods of securing reductions, including lead filters on exhaust systems and reductions of different amounts in the lead content of petrol. It concluded that a variety of measures would be possible but that redesign or re-equipment needed before any major change could come into effect would take five years or more. Costs would range from about £75 million per annum for use of lead filters to about £200 million per annum for completely lead-free petrol. Reductions in the lead content of petrol would entail extra consumption of energy of up to 5 per cent. The Government will take the findings of the report into account, together with other relevant work still in progress, in determining policy in this field.