One decade dawn

It's ten years ago: June 1990. Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Brooke has spent a lot of time in discussions with unionists and nationalists. The former are opposed to the Anglo-Irish Agreement and Brooke says he might consider alternatives. The US Federal Trade Commission had just begun an investigation of Microsoft for alleged monopolistic practices in the PC software market, just one month before the company's annual reported sales revenues hit the billion dollar mark. Pavarotti's rendition of "Nesse Dorma", opening the World Cup in Italy, brings tears to the eyes, notably followed by those of Gazza and all England following a German victory.

IEM, in the then guise of Industrial Waste Management, or IWM, was launched. The then editor, a chap called Jim Manson, kicked off the issue with this tirade: “To put matters bluntly, the main reason for land and water contamination is that past UK legislation was always designed to give industry some loophole. The significance of today’s EEC pressure is that someone in Brussels is demanding legislation without escape clauses.”

Someone in Brussels still is.

Jim went on to say that the then Government’s planned system of Integrated Pollution Control would give Britain the most advanced national pollution control system anywhere in Europe.

The Environmental Protection Act (1990, note) – “An Act to make provision for the improved control of pollution arising from certain industrial and other processes; to make provision conferring powers in relation to trolleys abandoned on land in the open air; to make provision for the control of genetically modified organisms; to confer powers to obtain information about potentially hazardous substances; to amend the law relating to the control of hazardous substances on, over or under land; to make further provision as respects the prevention of oil pollution from ships; and for purposes connected with those purposes [my italics]” – implemented that concept. A concept upon which UK environment policy has been based ever since. Indeed, the European Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive is modelled, to a large degree, on the UK system. “It is,” said Lord De Ramsay, former chairman of the Environment Agency, in a speech delivered to the House of Lords, “an example of Britain leading the way in pollution control in Europe. In fact, we are in danger of becoming the clean man of Europe.”

Of Brussels, say.

Matt MacAllan


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