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The Queen's Speech: Environment - Green pledges bear no fruit

TWO MAINLY technical measures on the mechanisms for water charging and pollution control represent all that the Government will be doing for the environment in the next Parliamentary session.

Environmentalists were left dispirited by the absence of action on a whole range of green issues - better protection for the countryside and wildlife, more measures to reduce road traffic, a food standards agency and a crackdown on water companies taking too much water from rivers and streams.

The forthcoming Water Industry Bill, for example, will do nothing to limit the over-extraction of water, which the Environment minister, Michael Meacher, promised to halt in June. It will end water disconnections for non-payment of bills, and make a water meter available free to anyone who wants one, both of which the Government promised last week.

The other "green" measure proposed in the Queen's Speech, the Pollution Prevention and Control Bill, is even more technical. It merely transposes into British law the Brussels directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control, replacing the UK's own, and similar, Integrated Pollution Control and Local Air Pollution Control regimes.