§ Mrs. Peacock
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many prosecutions under the Control of Pollution Act 1978 there have been in West Yorkshire in each of the last five years; and how many have resulted in convictions in the same period.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
I understand from the Yorkshire water authority that the number of prosecutions brought in West Yorkshire for offences under part II of the Act is as follows:
Year Prosecutions1 1985 4 1986 8 1987 11 1988 5 21989 2 1All these resulted in convictions. 2To date.
Prior to 1985, prosecutions for water pollution offences were brought tinder the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) Acts 1951 to 1961.
§ Mr. Alton
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) when he expects all companies to be subject to the terms of the Control of Pollution Act;54W
(2) if he will commission a study into the effects of the river Mersey of the cumulative effects of exempting companies from the Control of Pollution Act;
(3) how many companies in Britain were granted exemptions under the Control of Pollution Act to discharge excess pollutants into Britain's rivers; and if he will list the companies;
(4) how many companies exempted under the Control of Pollution Act discharge effluent into the river Mersey;
(5) what are his reasons for granting exemptions under the Control of Pollution Act to companies;
(6) if he will list the criteria he used to grant exemptions to companies to allow them to discharge excess pollutants into rivers under the Control of Pollution Act;
(7) if he will list the types of effluents and chemicals permitted to be discharged into rivers by companies exempted from the Control of Pollution Act;
(8) if he will list the maximum concentrations of pollutants that can be discharged under exemptions from the Control of Pollution Act; and what is the level for non-exempt companies;
(9) if he will now cease to exempt companies from the terms of the Control of Pollution Act.
§ Mr. Moynihan
[holding answer 20 April 1989]: The provisions of part II of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 apply to all companies. Under the phased introduction of part II of the Act, certain categories of discharge which did not require consent under earlier legislation, were exempted from control under the Act. The categories of discharges exempted are set out in The Control of Pollution (Exemption of Certain Discharges from Control) Order 1983 (Statutory Instrument 1983, No. 1182). The order also lists those cases where such exemptions do not apply on account of the requirements of particular EEC directives.
In September 1986, the Government announced their intention to withdraw most of these exemptions. This was effected through The Control of Pollution (Exemption of Certain Discharges from Control) (Variation) Order 1986 (Statutory Instrument 1986, No. 1623). This order lists the remaining categories of exempted discharges and sets out transitional provisions for previously exempted discharges. Water authorities have been advised that they should aim to replace all deemed consents issued under the transitional provisions with individually determined consents by October 1992.
The question whether an industrial discharge is still eligible for an exemption in accordance with the order, is currently a matter for the relevant water authority. However, all discharges of trade and sewage effluent into coastal and estuarial waters—such as the Mersey—have now been brought within the scope of controls.
The few remaining minor categories of discharges to which exemptions still apply are, by their nature, not considered to pose any significant pollution threat to the environment. However, under the terms of the Water Bill, discharges within these categories will be subject to a relevant prohibition procedure, which will allow the National Rivers Authority to give notice at any time that a discharge within these categories may be made only subject to their consent, and the conditions they will impose.
§ Mr. Alton
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will obtain and place in the Library a detailed hydrological analysis of the water in the river 55W Mersey, detailing the levels of (a) hydrocarbon effluents, (b) biological effluents, (c) inorganic chemical pollutants and (d) heavy metals.
§ Mr. Moynihan
[holding answer 20 April 1989]: The monitoring of water quality in the Mersey and of discharges of effluent into the river is the responsibility of the North West water authority. Data from the authority's monitoring operations are available for inspection on the public register maintained by the authority.
Further monitoring of these and other substances in the Mersey and other United Kingdom waters will be carried out as a consequence of actions agreed at the second North sea conference designed to achieve by 1995 substantial reductions of inputs of the most dangerous substances via rivers and estuaries. In the United Kingdom action is focused in particular on red list substances, details of which were announced by my noble Friend, the Minister for the Environment on 10 April, Official Report, House of Lords, column 121. Implementation of the North sea conference declaration will be applied to all United Kingdom waters, not just those flowing into the North sea.
§ Mr. Alton
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the maximum discharges of(a) benzene and (b) toluene permitted into rivers under the Control of Pollution Act.
§ Mr. Moynihan
[holding answer 20 April 1989]: Under the Control of Pollution Act 1974, any person wishing to discharge these substances to water must first obtain consent to do so from the appropriate water authority. There are no general limits set for these particular substances. Individual discharge consents are normally subject to conditions which specify the type and quantities of substances which may be discharged. These conditions are set by the consenting authority with regard to achieving the quality objectives set for the receiving waters, including current and potential uses of those waters. Maximum discharges therefore depend upon the circumstances of the particular case.
§ Mr. Moynihan
[holding answer 20 April 1989]: I understand that the company has deemed consent from the North West water authority to discharge trade effluent into the Mersey. Details about the discharge are entered on the public register maintained by the water authority.
I understand that the water authority is shortly to replace the deemed consent with a positively determined consent. Details of this consent, including the conditions to which it is subject, will also be entered on the public register.