LETTERS: Environmental facts on the Net

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The Independent Online
From Mr Alan Watson

Sir: You reported today that Friends of the Earth has "placed a register of Britain's most polluting factories, gasworks, chemical plants and refineries on the Internet" ("Blackspot warnings go on the Internet", 20 October). While we have provided detailed information on over 1,000 industrial sites, including some gasification processes, we haven't yet been able to publish data on old polluted gasworks sites. This is because the locations of these toxic legacies have been kept a closely guarded secret by British Gas.

We have, however, undertaken studies of gasworks and other contaminated land and we will be placing this information on to the Internet very soon. If British Gas had not been privatised, the public would have had a right to know detailed information about contamination of gasworks sites under the Environmental Information Regulations 1992.

Our decision to process this data for the Internet has been vindicated by the tremendous uptake.

In the first four hours after the launch, the data was seen by 10 times as many people as visited the Pollution Inspectorate's registers in a whole year. We hope that industry and regulators will take note and provide detailed environmental information on the Net.

Yours sincerely,

Alan Watson

Senior Campaigner

Friends of the Earth

London, N1

19 October