HC Deb 15 December 1980 vol 996 cc63-4W
Mr. Garel-Jones

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will make a statement about the outcome of the Council of Environment Ministers' meeting on 12 December.

Mr. Fox

The Council agreed a regulation banning imports of whale products and two decisions concerning Community conclusion of the Geneva convention on long range transboundary air pollution and the Strasburg conventions on conservation of wildlife and natural habitats. It agreed in principle, subject to the opinion of the European Parliament, a recommendation on reuse and recovery of waste paper. It also discussed vehicle emissions.

It proved impossible for the Council to reach agreement on the draft directive on major industrial hazards (deferred from the last Council) and the draft directive on discharge to water of mercury from chloralkali plants.

The agreement on the regulation banning whale products is very satisfactory. Other member States welcomed the United Kingdom initiative taken a year ago which led to the proposal for a regulation. I made it clear that we saw it as a first step and that we should next proceed to agree the proposal to implement the Washington convention on trade in endangered species; it is important that individual States should be able to go further than its minimum requirements.

The Council returned to discussion of the draft directive on major industrial hazards which was virtually agreed at the previous Environment Council on 30 June last. Some progress was made in improving the text but discussion concentrated on the transfrontier point. It proved, however, impossible to reconcile the views of the French and other delegations on this one outstanding point, and the directive was therefore remitted to the next Presidency.

Discussion on the discharge of mercury proposal showed that there remained differences of approach to several important aspects of control of pollution from black list substances. The proposal was referred back to officials.