Pollution

Question Time — Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 6th March 2003.

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Photo of Helen Eadie Helen Eadie Labour 2:30 pm, 6th March 2003

To ask the Scottish Executive what progress it is making in tackling pollution. (S1O-6595)

Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat

The Executive has made progress in tackling pollution. The quality of our rivers, estuaries and coastal waters is steadily improving, with investment in improved sewage treatment playing a major role. Parliament has passed the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Bill, which will improve our ability to enhance the protection of the water environment.

Air quality is generally good and areas of poorer air quality in the centres of some of our major cities are being addressed through local authority action plans under the air quality strategy. Last week, I launched the national waste plan, which sets a course for a more sustainable and less polluting approach to waste management.

Photo of Helen Eadie Helen Eadie Labour

What steps can the minister take to assist my constituents, who have a very serious problem? We have tried to address that problem through Scottish Water, but it appears not to have the resources to deal with the matter. Sewage sludge is being left on children's playing fields in the area. Developers cannot continue to develop, despite having planning permission from the local authority because the sewage is holding up that work. The health issues are causing grave concern for the entire village. I would value the minister taking a keen interest in the matter. Clearly, he has the will to tackle such problems through the strategy, but that is not happening in practice.

Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat

I am aware of the particular problems in relation to the case raised by the member. Given the intricacies that are involved across several authorities, the appropriate action for me to take would be to write to the member with a detailed response to the question.

Photo of Bruce Crawford Bruce Crawford Scottish National Party

Is the minister aware that, over the past week or so, there has been a worrying increase in the number of radioactive particles—by way of radioactive pollution—found around Dounreay? Will he consider instructing the Scottish Environment Protection Agency to move from a process of routine monitoring to a full and detailed study of the area to get to the bottom of the scale of radioactive pollution that surrounds the area? That would help to put people in that neck of the woods much more at ease with the surrounding environment.

Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat

I am aware of the recent reports and of the testing that has produced the results. The proper course of action is to assess the results and to discuss them with SEPA. We also speak to the radioactive waste authorities about the matter. Detailed controls are in place. We must be clear about whether the levels in the evidence to which the member refers breach the controls. If they do, that would certainly give us cause to have the review that he suggests. I assure the chamber that, as the member says, processes are in place to monitor outflows from Dounreay regularly.

Photo of John Scott John Scott Conservative

With regard to the disposal of refrigerators and the 143 tonnes of chlorofluorocarbon gases that need to be disposed of annually, is Scotland's fridge mountain still growing? When is Scotland's ability to dispose of waste fridges likely to meet the demand for the service?

Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat

As the member is aware, the Scottish Executive has given financial assistance to local authorities, both last year and this year, to assist in the storage of fridges. The installation of equipment to deal with that situation is a matter that private concerns have seen as something that they want to participate in. It is for that sector, with which John Scott will be familiar, to proceed with that work. I am not aware of any impediments that the Executive has put in place that would prevent that from happening.