HC Deb 12 April 2002 vol 383 cc649-50W
Malcolm Bruce

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department has taken in response to the LRTAP Protocols on(a) heavy metals, (b) persistent organic pollutants and (c) abatement of acidification, eutrophication and ground level ozone. [46567]

Mr. Meacher

Since becoming Party to the 1979 Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP) the UK has worked at an international level to abate transboundary air pollutants. The UK is preparing to ratify these three Protocols.

I issued a consultation paper on 20 March 2002 outlining the steps necessary to ratify the 1998 Protocol on Heavy Metals; comments are invited by 12 June 2002 I have arranged for a copy of the consultation paper to be placed in the Library. The consultation paper sets out a draft strategy for the UK to meet its commitments under the Protocol. The main requirements are the reduction of annual emissions to air of cadmium, lead and mercury to below 1990 levels. We already meet these requirement!, as annual emissions in the UK in 1999 were 30 per cent, or less, of 1990 levels for the three metals. Subject to the results of the consultation exercise, I hope to ratify the Protocol by the end of 2002.

The Department is also looking at what measures need to be in place for the UK to ratify the 1998 Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants, although the basic obligation to reduce emissions of POPs below their 1990 levels has already been achieved.

The UK signed the Protocol to abate acidification, eutrophication and ground level ozone (the "Gothenburg Protocol") in December 1999. The main requirement of the Protocol is to reduce emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, volatile organic compounds and ammonia to meet individual national ceilings from 2010. The Protocol covers the same four pollutants as the European Union National Emission Ceilings Directive, adopted last November, and ratification of the Protocol and and implementation of the Directive will be done jointly. I hope to issue a consultation paper later in the year on our proposals. Projections suggest that the UK is on course to meet the emission ceilings from 2010. Subject to consultations I hope that the UK will be able to ratify the Gothenburg Protocol by the end of 2002.