To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of British rivers are of good or fair quality; and what is the comparable figure in the rest of Europe.
A review of river classification schemes across the European Community published in 1988 by the water research centre showed that 95 per cent. of river length in the United Kingdom was of good or fair quality compared with 75 per cent. in the European Community as a whole. The review also indicated that no other member state bettered our position.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress is being made by the National Rivers Authority in tackling the pollution of rivers.
The National Rivers Authority has already demonstrated clearly its commitment to effective regulation of water quality. A number of offenders have been successfully prosecuted, and many more have received formal warnings. The authority has embarked on a number of reviews of key policy areas, including the discharge consent system, and it will carry out a national survey of river water quality in 1990.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of river pollution to the North sea comes from (a) the river Rhine, (b) the river Elbe, (c) continental rivers as a whole and (d) British rivers as a whole.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of input of contaminants into the North sea from rivers comes from English rivers.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of pollution in the North sea comes from British rivers.
Rivers are the most important source of North sea pollution, but their exact contribution varies according to the contaminant and year chosen for study.
The most recent comprehensive information available comes from a study published this year by the Netherlands-based International Centre for Water Studies, and I am arranging for copies to be placed in the Library. This shows in broad terms that the combined effect of all United Kingdom rivers flowing into the North sea is to contribute about 20 per cent. of river-borne contaminants. The remaining 80 per cent. of river-borne contaminants come from continental rivers with the Rhine-Meuse contributing about 30 per cent. and the Elbe around 35 per cent.