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Sewage Sludge

Volume 168: debated on Monday 5 March 1990

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will make a statement about the dumping of sewage sludge at sea.

The arrangements reached at the 1987 North sea ministerial conference included an undertaking in principle not to dump materials in the North sea unless there are no practical disposal alternatives on land. In the case of sewage sludge more than 70 per cent. of the United Kingdom's production of this material is now disposed of on land. The Government have continued to encourage sewerage undertakers to develop the use of practical land-based disposal methods for the remainder. In particular, we have identified significant advances in incineration techniques both as regard their efficiency and environmental impact.In view of this encouraging progress in the development of alternative methods, we have now decided to terminate the sea disposal of sewage sludge. This will mean a substantial programme of work to be undertaken in order to implement alternative disposal methods. A major capital investment will be required. Planning permission where necessary must also be obtained. We shall proceed as rapidly as possible. But some dumping will need to continue until new facilities are ready. We intend to have finished all dumping by the end of 1998.