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Ozone Levels

Volume 173: debated on Thursday 24 May 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) if he will establish a monitoring system and introduce a strategy aimed at reducing high ground-level ozone levels in mid-Wales; and if he will make a statement;(2) if he will estimate the annual effect of low-level ozone upon agriculture in Wales; and if he will make a statement;(3) if he will estimate how adversely crop yield will be affected if (1) low-level ozone levels in Wales maintain their current rate and (2) they maintain their annual rate of growth; and if he will make a statement;(4) by what percentage he expects the level of low-level ozone in Wales to increase in the next decade; and what effects he foresees of its impact upon agriculture.

On behalf of the Government the Warren Spring laboratory operates an ozone monitoring network designed to provide a continuous assessment of the ground-level ozone climate for the whole of the United Kingdom. It includes a site in Wales, and the extent and coverage of the network is kept under review. In addition my Department is currently funding the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Bangor, to carry out a study of the effects of typical rural concentrations of ozone and other atmospheric pollutants on the health of plant species in Wales.The effects of ozone on agriculture were considered in a report by the Department of the Environment's independent expert review group on photochemical oxidants. Copies of its first report have been placed in the Library of the House. Its findings, on the basis of research carried out in the United Kingdom and the United States of America indicate that sensitive crops such as turnip, bean, radish, barley, pea and spinach could be expected to show marginally reduced yields during the peak ozone concentrations monitored in Wales. If the rising trend in ozone levels were to continue, the effects on agriculture could be expected to become more severe.The Government are, however, already taking steps to reduce substantially emissions of the primary pollutants which react to form ozone. These are detailed in an answer given to the hon. and learned Member today by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.