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Marine Environment: Pollution

Volume 710: debated on Thursday 7 May 2009

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will support the government of Sweden's objective, as holder of the European Union presidency from 1 July, to launch programmes to reduce pollution in the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. [HL3203]

The Government certainly support the Government of Sweden's objective to launch programmes to reduce pollution in the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean when it takes up the European Union presidency on 1 July.

The UK has a vision for the marine environment to achieve “clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse seas”, and reducing pollution to the marine environment is an essential component of achieving this vision.

Pollution enters the marine environment mainly from land-based sources such as industry, agriculture, power generation, transport and households, but also from shipping, and offshore industries. In the UK and those countries bordering the north-east Atlantic Ocean that are members of the European Community (EC), pollution is generally well controlled, particularly through the requirements of various EC directives (for example, the water framework directive, the integrated pollution prevention and control directive and the marketing and use directive), which set risk-based limits and thresholds designed to protect the receiving waters.

The Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean have a number of countries not subject to EC requirements, some of which may be less advanced in pollution control practices and standards. This will be a key reason why Sweden is targeting these seas within its proposal.