Church organs escape EU toxic clamp down

Fears that traditional church organs containing lead piping faced an uncertain future following next month's introduction of regulations restricting the use of hazardous materials have proved unfounded.

The tabloids made much of the fact that Brussels was undermining our traditional values and organs would be hit by the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive which comes into force on July 1.

The source of concern for pipe organ builders was that the historic instruments now contain a small electric fan to blow air through the sound-making lead pipes, rather than relying on organist foot-power as was traditionally the case.

The authorities had always argued the directive was not aimed at organs, but rather more mundane electrical goods, but until now there has been no official confirmation that this would be the case.

But now organists can breathe easily once more, as DTI Minister Malcolm Wicks has given their instruments the all clear.

A meeting of the EU Commission’s Technical Advisory Committee held in Brussels this week unanimously concluded that pipe organs were exempt from the new rules.

“These EU rules were never meant to encompass pipe organs – it’s now 100% clear that they will be unaffected,” said Mr Wicks.

“The many concerned letters I received were a measure of the huge affection we have for the UK’s historic church organs. It’s a European ruling that has hit the right note.”

Sam Bond

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