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Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution

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The First Report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution was published in February 1971 and to date, twenty six in-depth reports and three shorter special reports have been published. Of the many recommendations by the Commission which successive Governments have accepted and implemented, the following are some notable examples:

  • Statutory powers to control all discharges into rivers, estuaries and coastal waters (Third Report).
  • Adoption of the concept of best practicable environmental option or BPEO (Fifth Report), which the Commission has since developed further (Twelfth Report).
  • The establishment of the Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee (Sixth Report).
  • Integration of responsibilities of different Government Departments for dealing with oil spills at sea (Eighth Report).
  • Initiation of negotiations within the European Community to secure the removal of the minimum level for lead in petrol (Ninth Report), so making it possible to buy unleaded petrol.
  • Acceptance that, as a guiding principle behind all legislative and administrative controls on environmental pollution, there should be a presumption in favour of unrestricted access for the public to information which pollution control authorities obtain or receive by virtue of their statutory powers (Tenth Report).
  • The establishment of a unified Pollution Inspectorate (Fifth and Eleventh Reports).
  • Recommendations on waste management (Eleventh Report), release of genetically engineered organisms (Thirteenth Report) and straw-burning (Seventh, Tenth and Eleventh Reports), all covered by provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.


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Page created: 2 January, 2004
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