Conservatives trump Labour as Blair goes soft on the environment

Strasbourg, 13 December 2006 — Labour’s failure to water down a major piece of environment legislation means the government has lost credibility on the green agenda.

In the key vote today on the REACH chemicals directive Conservatives will support in full the principle of substitution which the Labour government tried to scupper.

Sir Robert Atkins MEP, deputy leader of the Conservative delegation in the European Parliament, welcomed REACH and condemned Labour’s tactics:

“David Cameron’s aim has been to strengthen the protection for the environment and human health through the control of chemicals. We Conservatives fought for the substitution of chemicals which are hazardous to human health with safe alternatives where they exist. Labour wanted to allow the authorisation of many dangerous chemicals even when safer alternatives are known.

“We could have achieved much more if the Labour Government had not tried to pull the rug from under the feet of the Finnish Presidency’s efforts, by watering down these requirements on substitution.

“However in spite of Labour’s spoiling tactics we succeeded in securing mandatory substitution plans to phase out dangerous chemicals where safer alternatives are known.

“A balance has been found to provide businesses with legal certainty, confidentiality and protection of intellectual property, to minimise the need for animal testing and promote alternatives to animal testing, and to lead the world in a regulatory regime for the registration, evaluation and authorisation of all chemicals, while having a lighter touch regime for small firms.”

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