Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Fifth Report



  Thank you for your e-mail, received today, asking for copies of the attached information to be sent by post.

  We recently made a submission to the Environment Sub-committee of the House of Commons Select Committee on the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs which you kindly acknowledged on 19 September 2000.

  In that submission we referenced the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions, Regulatory Environmental Impact Assessment (REIA) of the Waste Incineration Directive. The data in that report shows, inter alia, that every 50 tonnes of NOx emissions are calculated by the DETR consultant to bring forward one death due to secondary ozone impacts.[1]

  We have raised this issue with the Environment Agency and sought their views on the REIA. After a protracted correspondence the Agency said that they had taken this up with the Department of Health. We then asked for copies of all the correspondence with the DoH but the request was refused.

  The attached correspondence includes the justification from the Environment Agency for their refusal.

  We have now asked for confirmation whether the Agency have advised the office of Mr Meacher that the request for this health based information has been refused in the light of his statement to the House of Commons (Hansard. 11 Jan 2000 : Column 133) in relation to health impacts of incineration that:

    "we will examine the issue more fully and we intend, as always on environmental issues, to be transparent and publish all the evidence"

  We thought that this refusal would be of interest to the members of the Environment Sub-committee and that they may want to pursue the grounds for the refusal with Mr Meacher or his officials in the course of the current inquiry. This seems particularly pertinent as the Human Rights Act 1998 has now come into force.

  Furthermore I note that Professor Roy Harrison, an eminent member of COMEAP and other Government Committees on air pollution, but currently acting for Hampshire Waste Services, accepted in his proof of evidence—and, unequivocally, under cross-examination—at the current Portsmouth Incinerator inquiry that the incinerator would bring forward deaths and hospitalisations.

  We have attached a copy of our letter to the Environment Agency following up this evidence.[2]

Alan Watson

October 2000

1   Following our evidence to the Committee a correction was made to the Regulatory Environmental Impact Assessment as detailed in an Answer to a Parliamentary question on 14 November 2000 at Hansard, column 580W. Back

2   Not printed. Back

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