Metals: Port of Tyne

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 19th April 2022.

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Photo of Nick Brown Nick Brown Chair, Finance Committee (Commons), Chair, Finance Committee (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what scientific evidence there is on the impact of zinc and lead sediment in the form found in the River Tyne on marine life.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Zinc and lead are known to induce adverse effects on marine life. River Tyne sediments exhibit higher levels of these metals compared with other parts of the UK, due to the historical industrial and mining activities associated with the river. There is currently insufficient evidence as to whether concentrations of zinc and lead in the form found in River Tyne sediments are having an impact on marine life.

However, in recognition of wider evidence of the impacts of mining pollution more generally, we are currently consulting on a target to reduce the length of rivers pollution by metals from abandoned metal mines by 50% by 2037 in the Environment Act Targets consultation. This will include lead and zinc metal pollution.

This will drive action across the country and builds on work by the Environment Agency, in partnership with the Coal Authority and Defra, to implement measures to control inputs of metals in the Tyne headwaters as part of the Water and Abandoned Metal Mines Programme.

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