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Grubby Britannia

June 26, 2003 12:00 AM
Chris Davies MEP (North West Region)

Chris Davies wants the UK Government to abide by EU environmental laws.

Abandoned cars litter the streets, landfill sites near capacity and pollutants are pumped onto the atmosphere. Britain stands in the dock accused of ignoring European environmental laws designed to create a greener environment.

While many British citizens believe that the UK is at the top of the tree when it comes to implementing EU laws, it is in fact amongst the very worst offenders, time and time again breaking EU laws to which it agreed.

North West MEP Chris Davies says that Britain is currently in breech of nine EU environmental laws. It gave its ascent to every one of them, but has failed to turn them into national legislation by the agreed date.

The failure of the government to transpose these laws could end up costing British taxpayers millions of pounds. If a judgement against the UK is obtained in the European Court.

Four of the affected directives deal with air pollution; focusing on improving the environment and public health, while two others centre on waste issues.

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee reporting earlier this month notes that Britain's waste problems are, "compounded by the fact that the government's record in dealing with EU legislation on waste is poor."

The Landfill directive lays down standards for waste treatment to reduce the problem of pollution and generation of global warming gases from landfill sites. Again, Britain agreed to this in Europe, but has failed to make it British law.

The EU End-of-Life Vehicles Directive requires pollutants such as oil and brake fluid now to be removed from old cars before they are sent to be crushed. From 2006 at least 80% of all vehicle materials and components must be re-used or recycled.

But the Government has decided to amend the law so that final owners of vehicles have to pay the costs of removing pollutants from old vehicles. The result could be several hundred thousand extra cars dumped on British streets each year by owners determined to avoid paying the charges.

Chris Davies the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman in the European Parliament says the government must act now and implement these laws.

He said: "This problem is not going to go away. The government must clean up its act and shake off the dirty reputation it has earned for our country, giving the impression that British ministers simply cannot be trusted to keep their word when they give their agreement to new EU laws."