British Barometer under renewed pressure due to European Commission’s continued efforts to force ban

Brussels, November 6th, 2006 — The traditional British barometer has once again come under threat from the European Commission after it ignored the wishes of the European Parliament and published legislative proposals to outlaw the use of mercury in the ancient weather instrument.

Earlier this year, the European Parliament voted to exclude barometers from the EU’s non-legislative strategy on mercury. However, despite this, an EU directive on mercury was published and the anticipated protection for barometers was missing.

The renewed threat prompted Conservative MEPs to resurrect the campaign to save the British barometer. They tabled an amendment to exempt the 400-year-old tradition from the proposals.

The amendment was passed by MEPs in the Environment Committee but is now due to be voted upon by all 732 MEPs in a crucial vote next week in Strasbourg.

Mercury is a heavy metal which can be toxic to humans, ecosystems and wildlife, but Sir Robert believes appropriate safety warnings and careful controls will allow the continuation of barometer manufacturer and repair, and safeguard many jobs and small businesses in the UK and the rest of Europe.

The British Government is offering no support to British business and is supporting the Commissions proposed ban.

Sir Robert, said:

“The barometer industry in the UKmay be small but it is a centuries-old tradition that harks back to our maritime roots.

“Mercury does need to be controlled but banning the traditional household barometer is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. The Commission must now see sense and provide an exemption for the barometer.

“Aban would see the end of the tradition of barometer making which was begun in the mid 1600s when mercury barometers were first introduced.

“Barometers are only made by a small group of people in Europe, predominantly located in the UK, the Netherlands and Belgium who also carry out the repair, maintenance and recycling of historic instruments.

“If this mercury ban is implemented, these businesses will be forced to close, people will be unable to have their instruments repaired properly and would potentially dispose of them into household waste.

“Appropriate product safety warnings and carefully controlled usage would mean people can continue to use barometers as they have for centuries without a threat to the environment or to public health.”

Mr Philip Collins from Barometer World Ltd (in Devon), the world’s largest firm dealing in and restoring barometers, said:

“Barometers are my livelihood. I deal with mercury every day and the levels are so small that I have never been adversely affected.

“We do take health and safety very seriously and keeping mercury out of the waste stream must be a priority but banning barometers is completely disproportionate to the potential risk.

“The European Commission has no justification for threatening our barometers and they must preserve our traditions by ensuring we can continue to practice this ancient art.”

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