HC Deb 15 April 1986 vol 95 cc337-8W
Mr. Forman

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will publish the report of the working party on public access to information held by pollution control authorities.

Mr. Waldegrave

[pursuant to his reply, 20 December 1985, c. 368]: The report is being published today. I am arranging for copies to be placed in the Library of the House.

The Government accept the broad thrust of the report and will now consult the various interested parties on detailed implementation.

The report recommends:

  1. i. legislation to give Ministers power to make information public on radioactive wastes;
  2. ii. legislation to give Ministers power to disclose information on disposal to land of other wastes;
  3. iii. an extension of the informaton made available on air pollution, in the form of public registers.

In 1984 the Government accepted the recommendation of the Royal Commission on environmental pollution that there should be a presumption in favour of unrestricted access to information which the pollution control authorities obtain or receive by virtue of their statutory powers. The working party was set up to make recommendations on the best ways of implementing that recommendation.

The report notes that a number of legislative changes since 1984 have met the Royal Commission's recommendation, notably: Pesticides—provisions for public access to information about pesticides in the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985. Discharges to water—regulations now require water authorities to keep public registers of discharge consents.