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Column 754Dr. C. J. O. Harrison
Mr. J. M. Harrop
Professor G. V. T. Matthews
Mr. J. Teacher
Miss V. M. Thom
Mr. Trippier : About 20 professional staff, some of whom will be transferred from the Commission, together with a limited number of support staff will be employed by the European Environment Agency. The precise total numbers, secondments and new recruits have yet to be determined.
Mr. Trippier : The cost of establishing and running the European Environment Agency in its first year is estimated at 5.5 million ecu, equivalent to about £3.8 million. It is likely that part of this expenditure will be met through transfer of expenditure on existing Community programmes.
Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his estimate of the number of homeless people in London currently sleeping rough ; and what is his estimate for each year since 1979.
Mr. Chope : There are no regular and reliable counts or estimates. The most recent study undertaken for the Salvation Army found 753 people sleeping rough on the streets of 17 London boroughs on one night in April this year. We have no other reliable estimate.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make representations to the management of F. W. Woolworth plc in respect of their product lines Christmas Snow and Silly String, in view of their ozone-depleting properties ; if he will take steps to ban the use of ozone-depleting chemicals in non-essential products ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Trippier : I understand that it is the intention of the British aerosol industry that by the end of this year at least 90 per cent. of their products will be CFC free. It is the policy of the Government to phase out all CFC consumption by the end of the century.
Mr. Chope : With the expected increase of three quarters of a million people over the age of 75 in the next 20 years I am today publishing this report which shows the contribution that can be made by very sheltered housing schemes to the care of frail elderly people in the community.
The report based on research by my Department showed that the vast majority of elderly people liked living in very sheltered schemes which are an enhanced form of sheltered housing with extra wardens, provision of meals and help for residents with domestic and care tasks, and which are currently provided by about one in three local authorities and one in four housing associations.
Caring for an elderly person in very sheltered housing was less expensive than a place in a local authority old people's home and much less expensive than equivalent care in hospital. Very sheltered housing schemes were, however, more costly than comparable care provided in an elderly person's own home and about one in four of those interviewed would have preferred this cheaper option. The schemes also varied considerably in the frailty of the people they catered for, some schemes containing a high proportion of relatively fit elderly people.
The report recommends that future schemes adopt a slightly more flexible approach to caring for residents by making use of visiting care support services provided by social services departments and district health authorities rather than relying entirely on permanent in-house staff. It also suggests that the preferred model for development is for self- contained rather than shared accommodation, with additional communal facilities and with meals available. Overall, the report concludes that, whilst very sheltered housing can be an attractive alternative to hospital and residential care for most elderly people, it is an expensive resource which should be provided only after careful appraisal of all the factors involved including the wishes of elderly people, stress on carers, and costs. It should also be provided only where there is an adequate level of care and consultation with all the relevant agencies in assessing nominations for places. However, enabling frail elderly people to remain at home must continue to be the first option for those who need and want it.
The Government's White Paper on care in the community, published last month, recognises that suitable housing is an important component of community care, and that social services authorities will need to work closely with providers of housing of all types in developing plans for a full and flexible range of accommodation. Very sheltered housing will form part of the spectrum of care provision which local authorities will be able to call on as they plan services in their areas to cater for a variety of individual needs.
Mr. Butler : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will place in the Library a copy of the guidance he has given to local authorities relating to exemptions from the community charge.
Mr. Trippier : My Department issued a consultation paper on 31 August this year explaining in detail our proposals for implementing the large combustion plants directive. Such plants are responsible for 85 per cent. of United Kingdom emissions of sulphur dioxide. A copy of the paper is in the Library of the House.
Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report the letter written to the hon. Member for Carmarthen on 5 December by the Minister for the Environment and Countryside, the hon. Member for Rossendale and Darwen (Mr. Trippier).
"I promised to write to you in response to the series of questions you tabled recently on aspects of hazardous waste management. It may be helpful if I respond to them topic by topic.
There are currently four incinerators licensed to deal commercially with special wastes in Britain. I do not, however, have detailed information on the number of large chemical incinerators in the European Community or elsewhere which treat special wastes. I am unable either to provide the information you seek on the design of their furnace door.
Regarding incineration at sea, the disposal of wastes from the UK is licensed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. My Department does not keep records of the amount of special wastes incinerated in the North Sea or in other European waters.
Information on the import of wastes for incineration has been held by my Department only since October 1988 when the relevant provisions of the Transfrontier Shipment of Hazardous Waste Regulations came into force. Since then some 8,700 tonnes of imported special waste has been dealt with at the four commercially available incinerators. Turning to your questions concerning the incinerator operated by ReChem International Ltd. at Ponteg, Pontypool, information on the amount of waste dealt with is not held by my Department. That is a matter for the local waste disposal authority, Torfaen borough council.
The results of the PCB sampling in soils and herbage around the plant undertaken by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution are as follows (all figures in microgrames per kilogram) :
|mg/kg ----------------------------------- PCBs in herbage: Range |3.0-19.7 Mean |8.4 Median |6.6 PCBs in soil: Range |9.0-19.0 Mean |13.5 Median |14.8
I understand that the Inspectorate has also taken samples of soil and herbage for Dioxin analysis. These samples are currently being analysed and I will write again as soon as the results are available.
The latest figures (August 1989) indicate levels of PCB in the flue gas of the incinerator to be considerably less than 0.01 milligrams per cubic metre. The latest figures for Dioxins and Furans are as follows (all in nanograms per cubic metre) :
|Nanograms |per cu. m. -------------------------------------------------------- 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzofuran |0.05 Tetrachlorodibenzofurans (total) |0.12 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin |<0.025 Tetrachlorodibenzodioxins (total) |<0.025 Pentachlorodibenzofurans (total) |<0.025 Pentachlorodibenzodioxins (total) |<0.025 Hexachlorodibenzofurans (total) |<0.025 Hexachlorodibenzodioxins (total) |<0.025 Heptachlorodibenzofurans (total) |<0.05 Heptachlorodibenzodioxins (total) |0.05 Octachlorodibenzofuran |<0.025 Octachlorodibenzodioxin |0.05
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution inform me that the emission figures for both PCBs and Dioxins/Furans compare very favourably with those published for similar incinerators in Europe. I am also informed by the Inspectorate that no equipment is currently available to give instantaneous readings of PCB or Dioxin in flue gas. However continuous sampling is undertaken and samples of flue gas are analysed on a routine basis for PCB and on a more random basis for Dioxin.
Regarding alternative methods to incineration of PCBs, a number of possible processes are under investigation. The most promising appear to be those involving exchange of the chlorine atom or
microbiological systems. Neither is, however, likely to prove effective for high concentrations of PCBs for which high temperature incineration is likely to remain the only satisfactory form of disposal.
Figures with respect to the cumulative totals of PCBs manufactured over the last 30 years are not available in the form you asked for them. But from the start of commercial production in 1929 to 1980 some 1,055,000 tonnes of PCBs were produced worldwide, of which 66, 800 tonnes were produced in the United Kingdom by Monsanto, Newport. Other major producing countries were the USA (648,000 tonnes), Japan (60,000 tonnes), Spain (25,000 tonnes) and Italy (24,000 tonnes). During 1980-84 only France, West Germany, Italy and Spain within the community continued to manufacture PCBs and after 1984 production continued only in France and Spain. My Department does not hold figures for PCB production after 1980.
My Department does not hold information on the amount of special waste treated by Leigh Environmental using their Sealosafe process, or its current state. That is a matter for the local waste disposal authority, Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council.
Information on the import of flyash through Swansea Docks is also not held centrally. That is a matter for the local waste disposal authority, Swansea District Council. I have no information on the analysis of this flyash for dioxins.'
I hope this is helpful."
Mr. Chope [holding answer 13 December 1989] : Until the PSA has commercial accounting systems, any general estimates of the cost competitiveness of its services would be of doubtful value. In any event, with the introduction of competition it would not be appropriate to publish any
Column 758estimated comparison between PSA's costs and competitors' fees as this would give competitors information which might harm the PSA's market position.
Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment which authorities have responsibility for checking the exhaust fumes from buses and other heavy vehicles what powers are available to them ; and if he will make a statement.
The annual tests for buses and heavy goods vehicles conducted by the Department's vehicle inspectorate include a visual check on smoke density. Over the past two years the inspectorate has increased substantially its programme of roadside checks on the condition of goods vehicles. This also includes a check on smoke emissions. Vehicles can be banned or owners required to rectify defects within a specified period.
In addition, the police are responsible for day-to-day enforcement of requirements set by the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations which include controls on vehicle emissions. They can require defects to be rectified within a specified period.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been (a) the average level and (b) the greatest reported level of worker exposure to radioactivity at the B-30 pond at Sellafield ; and whether the worker exposure levels have ever exceeded legal limits.
I am informed that average annual external doses to the most exposed group of B30 workers have reduced from 28.3 millisieverts in 1984 to 18.5 millisieverts in 1988. Following the introducton of the Ionising Radiation Regulations in 1986, internal doses have also been assessed. The addition of internal doses in 1988 had the effect of adding 2.5 millisieverts, to give a total average whole body dose of 21 millisieverts in that year.
I have asked the chairman of BNFL to write to the hon. Member on the question of average doses prior to 1984.
Since 1971, the annual statutory limit of 50 millisieverts external dose has been exceeded by two B30 personnel in 1978 ; one in 1980 ; and two in 1985. The highest dose received was an annual dose of 86.1 millisieverts in 1980.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment which local authorities in England and Wales allow a discretionary award for veterans disabled during the second world war or for their widows in the assessment of housing benefit.
Local schemes for disregarding war widow's and war disablement pensions in excess of the statutory disregard are entirely at the discretion of the local authority.
The list has been compiled from the best information available to the Department and shows those local authorities that operate a local scheme of this kind. I regret that the information available is insufficiently detailed to
Column 759restrict the answer only to those schemes aimed particularly at people receiving war pensions arising from the second world war. Local Authorities in England and Wales operating a discretionary scheme for War Widow's and War Disablement Pensions Adur
Crawley New Town
Crewe and Nantwich
Epsom and Ewell