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European Environment Agency

Volume 164: debated on Monday 8 January 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment pursuant to his reply of 30 November to the hon. Member for Billericay, Official Report, column 368, if he will undertake a survey of businesses to determine their view of the usefulness of the European Environment Agency.

The objectives of the proposed European Environment Agency are to assemble, coordinate and analyse environmental information to inform and support Community environment policy. There is no intention to place further burdens on industry by surveying their views on the proposal.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report his letter of 6 December to the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green concerning the seventh report of the Environment Committee of Session 1988–89, relating to the proposed European Environment Agency.

The text of my letter was as follows:

"Your Committee took evidence from my officials on 8th November and produced an admirably clear report in time for the debate in the House on 12th November; we appreciate this.
For the record I can say that Government policy is very much in line with the Committee's recommendations.
In particular:

Paragraph 1: The Committee's agreement with the DOE view on duties of the Agency is noted.
Paragraph 11: The Government agrees that "in the first instance the Agency should be set up as a Community body".
Paragraph 12: The Draft Regulation requires separate agreements to be established with third countries covering all aspects of participation; but the need to include voting rights and the financial contribution issue is noted.
Paragraph 14: The need to recognise the value of the information holding of NGO's is important and the Committee is right to stress the advantages of collaboration between the Agency and the NGO's in this area.
Paragraph 15: I shall be keeping the staffing implications of the proposal under review as far as my Department is concerned.
Paragraph 16: The Committee's support for the Government bid for the Agency to be located in the United Kingdom is welcome.
Please convey my thanks to your Committee for their speedy and helpful examination of this issue. Your findings were helpful in the discussions in the Environment Council on 28th November and you might like to know that the location of the Agency is now the only significant outstanding issue as far as Environment Ministers are concerned. You may have seen that the Government has now offered Cambridge as a suitable location; no decision has yet been taken however at Community level."