§ Alun Michael
I refer to the reply to my hon. Friend on 17 November 2003,Official Report, column 624W, concerning the consultation paper the Department issued containing an assessment undertaken by the Environment Agency of the case for tackling mercury emissions from crematoria. The assessment included a review of the available mercury monitoring data and of estimates of mercury emissions from crematoria. Several of the responses to the consultation raised concerns that the emission estimates were uncertain. We recognise that there remain uncertainties and that these will have to be taken into account in reaching a decision on the extent to which gas cleaning will be required. The uncertainties do not extend to the health impacts of mercury nor affect our long-standing policy approach, as summarised in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mrs. Clark) on 14 October 2003, Official Report, columns 99 and 100W.
Officials are currently in discussion with representative cremation organisations to develop a fair mechanism for reducing emissions from a proportion of existing crematoria which is what is needed to fulfil the Governments policy objectives. We will be consulting in due course on detailed proposals, including what that proportion should be.