§ Lord Brougham and Vaux
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What are the conclusions of their review of oil dispersant policy.
In April 1993 the Government announced that it would conduct a review of oil dispersant policy. Two scientific reports were commissioned and published; we prepared a consultation paper setting out proposed improvements which was circulated to over 600 bodies. Sixty-four responses were received. We have responded on issues where suggestions were made; in general, there was broad agreement to our plans, and we have now prepared a final report (Testing, Approval and Use of Oil Dispersants—Final Report of the Government Review) completing the review.
We have concluded that it would be fully justified to retain oil dispersants as the UK's primary means of combating oil spills at sea, in order to protect economic and environmental resources, although oil dispersants may not be appropriate in all instances. All products will continue to be required to pass efficacy and toxicity tests. These tests will, in future, incorporate some minor improvements designed further to protect the marine environment.
My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, has initiated the development of protocols, in conjunction with the industry, that will enable bioremediation products to be licensed in the UK. These could in due course, make an important contribution to clean-up operations. There will also be new arrangements for labelling products in line with our policies on openness.
In carrying out the review my right honourable friend has also managed to achieve modest deregulatory gains by enabling manufacturers to submit their own test results. My right honourable friend also intends to publish a booklet explaining the approval process, which will include a code of good spraying practice. A copy of the final report has been placed in the Library of the House.