Smokeless Zones

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd May 1973.

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Photo of Mr Richard Kelley Mr Richard Kelley , Don Valley 12:00 am, 23rd May 1973

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many local authorities had to suspend the introduction of smokeless zone orders during the years 1971 and 1972 because of a national shortage of solid smokeless fuel.

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

The information is not available, since local authorities are empowered to defer the coming into operation of confirmed smoke control orders for up to 12 months without reference to my right hon. and learned Friend. However, the shortage of solid smokeless fuel inherited from the previous Government was ended during the summer of 1971. Since then all authorities have been urged to press forward with smoke

SMOKE CONTROL ORDERS
(a) Submitted
YearNumberAcresPremises
1971National23789,487374,304
North Region247,35323,395
1972National360147,521492,299
North Region5619,12657,344
1973 to end AprilNational13273,479207,419
North Region253,74515,121
(b) Confirmed
YearNumberAcresPremises
1971National20376,491321,225
North Region227,21826,801
1972National314130,632456,821
North Region336,39632,371
1973 to end AprilNational18367,022258,260
North Region397,58632,745

control. I am glad to say that in the first four months of this year considerable progress has been made.

I will, with permission, circulate details in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Photo of Mr Richard Kelley Mr Richard Kelley , Don Valley

Is the Minister aware that there is considered to be surplus capacity for producing solid smokeless fuel and that serious consideration is being given by the National Coal Board and others to closing down about £10 million of public investment in this business? Does not the Minister think that it is now the duty of his Department to give instructions to local authorities, or at least to advise them, to press ahead with the declaration of smokeless zones wherever possible? Does he not think that at this moment it would be a retrograde step to cut back stocks of this fuel when there is such a grave need to improve the quality of the air we breathe?

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

At present, stockpiles of solid smokeless fuels are adequate for foreseeable needs. There is, therefore, no need for anxiety in that respect. But I stress that the Government regard the policy of extending smokeless zones as of great importance and are doing everything possible to encourage local authorities to adopt such schemes.

Photo of Mr Edward Milne Mr Edward Milne , Blyth

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it would greatly help the extension of smokeless zones if the Department and the NCB were to look at the standard and quality of the smokeless fuel being provided?

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

I will certainly note that point.

Following is the information