§ Mr. McCabe
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he expects to make an announcement about applications to vary some of the radioactive discharge limits at Sellafield. 
§ Mr. Prescott
The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and I have announced our decisions today. Copies of the decision document have been placed in the Library.
This Government are committed to securing progressive cuts in radioactive discharges and discharge limits. Last year we entered into new international obligations (under OSPAR) to reduce radioactive discharges. These involve agreeing a 20-year strategy for cutting discharges that will ensure additional concentrations of radioactivity in the marine environment above historic levels are close to zero. We intend to meet these obligations fully, and are already working with the regulatory authorities and the nuclear industry to prepare the UK's strategy.
Taking full account of this strategy, we have now decided that the Environment Agency should be able to proceed with its proposals which involve significant cuts in a number of discharge limits, or offsetting decreases in those few cases where some increase in discharges limits is proposed. Where discharge limits are being increased it is to enable the historic legacy of stored spent solvent to be treated through the introduction of the Solvent Treatment Plant.16W
We do intend however to take further action to reduce discharges. The Environment Agency is embarking on a full-scale review of all radioactive discharges from the Sellafield site. I expect the outcome of the review to enable significant further progress to be made in the achievement of the OSPAR commitments. The review, to the point at which the Environment Agency begins consultations on any proposed changes to the Sellafield authorisations, will be undertaken as soon as possible—and in the case of technetium-99 discharges within six months. The Agency has said that its future strategy is for a substantial reduction in the technetium-99 discharges to sea with the aim of reducing discharges to less than 10TBq/year by the introduction of new technology.