HL Deb 06 March 1989 vol 504 cc1351-2WA
Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government

If they will make a statement on the outcome of the Environment Council on 2nd March.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (The Earl of Caithness)

United Kingdom at this meeting.

Following the initiative of the UK, the Council agreed on the need to reduce production and consumption of the CFCs controlled by the Montreal Protocol by at least 85 per cent. as soon as possible with a view to phasing them out by the end of the century, and to strengthen the protocol accordingly. This represents substantial and welcome progress since the Environmental Council of 24th November. The agreement gave a clear signal to this week's "Saving the Ozone Layer" Conference and to the first meeting of the parties to the protocol in Helsinki in May. It puts the European Community firmly in the lead in trying to convince the rest of the world that tougher international measures are needed.

I am pleased to report that the Council reached agreement on the municipal waste incineration directive, which sets sensible but appropriately rigorous standards for new municipal waste incinerators in line with the regime likely to be imposed for domestic reasons by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution when they come under its control at the end of March under regulations to be laid before the House within the next few days.

The Council had a further useful discussion of the proposal for a directive on the contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms. A considerable number of points were resolved, and the proposal was referred back for further consideration of remaining issues.

A proposal to introduce controls over discharges of four dangerous substances to waste was also discussed.

The Council gave preliminary consideration to proposed technical amendments to the air quality directive on smoke and sulphur dioxide emission which do not affect the UK.

The Commission noted progress on the global Transfrontier Shipment of Hazardous Waste Convention, which is currently under negotiation under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme.

A preliminary exchange of views took place on a communication from the Commission on measures to improve the conservation of the African elephant.

Ministers also discussed the conference to be held in The Hague on 11th March and agreed a declaration stating that any member state attending the conference would not be asked to enter into international commitments liable to affect the environment policy of the Community as a whole.