UK Still One of Main Polluters of North Sea UK Ranks High in North Sea Pollution League
Nicholson-Lord, David, The Independent (London, England)
BY DAVID NICHOLSON-LORD
Britain remains one of the dirtiest polluters in Europe, according to figures for the North Sea published in advance of an international conference next week.
The figures, a summary of which was released by the Department of the Environment yesterday, show that Britain has been among the worst performers in reducing its discharges to the North Sea over the last 10 years.
In a "league table" of nine countries which have measured discharges of heavy metals, toxic chemicals, pesticides and solvents, the UK is well in the lower half, in spite of claims by the department that its success in reducing pollution ranks "up with the rest".
States which border the North Sea agreed 10 years ago to reduce discharges of pollutants by between 50 and 70 per cent by this year.
Some countries, notably Norway, claim a 100 per cent record in eliminating discharges of poisonous heavy metals such as mercury and lead. Others with above-average performances include Germany and Denmark.
The department argues that the figures are not strictly comparable and that the British method of collecting pollution data - by taking water samples where rivers meet the sea - is more reliable than techniques used by other countries, which measure direct outputs from industry and may thus miss "diffuse" sources of pollution such as run-off from land.
According to the department, the result is that other states may have over-estimated their success in meeting the 50 per cent targets.
However, Greenpeace, the environmental pressure group, yesterday criticised the British survey methods as "virtually useless" in achieving targets of cutting pollution, because they did not identify the source of it, and said the UK remained the biggest polluter of the North Sea. …