UK Conservatives make U-turn on chemicals.

Posted: 2 October 2006

The leader of the UK Conservative Party, David Cameron, has made a dramatic change in Conservative policy with a commitment to protect people and the environment from harmful man-made chemicals.

In his first conference speech as leader of the Conservatives, yesterday, Mr Cameron insisted that his party would vote to ensure chemicals that may harm people and the environment will be replaced with safer ones where they exist.

According to WWF, the Conservatives' change of direction to support this policy may well alter the result of a key EU vote. On October 10th Mr Cameron's MEPs will show their support for their leaders' new stance on the REACH legislation, and by doing so could tip the balance making it likely that the production and sale of man-made toxic chemicals will be more tightly controlled.

WWF has been pushing for a strong REACH - which stands for Registration Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals - since it was devised, but massive lobbying by the chemicals industry has progressively weakened the legislation.

Paul King, Director of Campaigns for WWF-UK said: "We have criticised the Conservatives on this issue in the past, but this is a bold move that deserves praise. Mr Cameron's support for a strong REACH shows a commitment to supporting innovative business, but not at the expense of human health or the environment."

Mr Cameron was taken to the Arctic by WWF in April this year to see the impacts of chemical contamination and climate change for himself.