§ Mr. Gummer
[pursuant to his reply, 6 February 1986, c. 261]: I am now able to announce the decision that I have reached on the renewal of licences for the disposal of dredged spoil and other material in Liverpool bay.
After consideration of all the available information, and in agreement with the licensees concerned, I have decided to renew the licences for the sea disposal of dredged spoil from the Merseyside docks and river channels except in the case of the small amount dredged from the Manchester ship canal which will henceforth go to land. Similarly I have decided to renew the licences of the North West water authority for the sea disposal of sewage sludge, on condition that the trace amount of mercury allowed in the sludge is further reduced by about 30 per cent.
These licences, which will as usual be valid for one year, will be issued under part II of the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 which requires Ministers to have regard to the need to protect the marine environment, its living resources and human health. I am satisfied that the relevant standards for the protection of the marine environment from contamination by mercury are being met. The variations that I have announced in the terms of the licences will, however, contribute to a further reduction of the input of mercury into the areas concerned in accordance with our responsibilities to protect the marine environment.