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Sewage Sludge

Volume 164: debated on Monday 18 December 1989

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the figures for sewage sludge dumped in British coastal waters for each of the last three years.

I have been asked to reply.Disposals to sea of sewage sludge from the United Kingdom under licences issued under part II of the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 were as follows:

'000 tonnes (wet weight)
19869,735
19879,016
19889,856
About 95 per cent. of the content is water.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessments his Department has made as to the environmental impact of dumping sewage sludge in British coastal waters.

I have been asked to reply.The Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for monitoring disposals to sea from England and Wales. An extensive field assessment programme is conducted at each of the designated disposal sites; each site is visited at least biennially although some sites are studied more frequently. In addition, licensees are required to carry out an approved programme of dumpsite monitoring as a condition of their licences. Detailed monitoring reports have been published for a number of sites and copies of these are in the Library. The results of these investigations have shown that the disposal of sewage sludge has caused no detrimental environmental impact at any of the designated sites.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what controls his Department imposes on the heavy metal content of sewage sludge dumped at sea.

I have been asked to reply.Licences to deposit sewage sludge at sea provide for annual limits on the quantity of individual metals in the waste. A requirement is placed on licensees to monitor the composition of sludge as dumped and to report levels to the licensing authority. The composition of sludge is checked directly by sampling by the licensing authority.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to introduce legislation to provide a financial incentive to commercial and industrial firms for the recycling and re-use of materials; and if he has investigated the feasibility of, and problems associated with, the kerbside collection of materials from domestic and commercial refuse for recycling.

We do not intend to introduce such legislation; although proposed legislation on pollution control and waste disposal will provide a market incentive for recycling. We are however contributing, with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment, to the evaluation of the UK2000 recycling city project in Sheffield which includes a kerbside collection scheme for recyclable domestic refuse.