HL Deb 24 March 1988 vol 495 cc377-8WA
Lord Colwyn

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will make a Statement on the outcome of the Environment Council on 21st March.

The Earl of Caithness

I represented the United Kingdom at this meeting. The council adopted a resolution on the close of European Year of the Environment which emphasised the need for continued efforts on environmental information and awareness. Notwithstanding disappointment that some important proposals had not yet been adopted, there was general agreement that the year had stimulated many and varied environmental achievements.

The council reached agreement on a directive to control discharge of chloroform to the aquatic environment, in particular those from significant industrial sources. In connection with this agreement and at the UK's request the Commission undertook to bring to the council at an early date proposals for drawing up a list of the most dangerous substances for future priority consideration. A proposal for a directive to co-ordinate controls over discharges of chromium to the aquatic environment was also discussed. Due to divergences of opinion among member states, the council failed to agree draft guidelines put forward by the presidency for further work on harmonising national programmes for reducing pollution caused by waste from the titanium dioxide industry.

A general welcome was given to the Commission's recently published proposals for ratification and implementation of the Montreal protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer. It was hoped that the proposed regulation on Community-wide measures could be adopted in June.

Discussion of the large combustion plants directive focused on the emission standards proposed for new combustion plant and, in particular, the size threshold above which such standards would apply. It 'was necessary for me to stress that the German Presidency's "compromise" proposals were unrealistic and represented a step backwards from those recently presented by the Danish Presidency. Although I was ready to discuss the new plant standards and the requirements for reductions from existing plants, the presidency decided not to discuss anything further. Thus it was not possible to make progress at the council, although I look forward to more constructive discussions with the presidency in the near future.

The council had an initial discussion of the Commission's recent proposal for standards for emissions from small cars, as required by Directive 88/76/EEC (the "Luxembourg package"). I made a statement welcoming a proposal to establish a European standard for replacement silencers for motorcycles.

Further discussion of a proposal to establish a five-year Community-wide programme of projects illustrating how actions in the environment field might contribute to employment led to an undertaking by the Commission to consider alternative methods of financing such a programme.