WESTMINSTER'S plan to remove the right to object to genetically modified (GM) food has been rejected by Ross Finnie, the Scottish parliament's environment and rural development minister, putting him on a collision course with the Blair government.
The most notorious places are often the most dismal. Aldermaston, the secretive citadel that gave Britain its nuclear weapons, is not a sight to lift the heart. As far as the eye can see there are drab buildings and bunkers, set in a sea of mud and grass. A huge, ancient heating pipe snakes around them, leaking steam. Beyond lie rank after rank of imposing barbed-wire fences. The sense is one of decay and glories past.
Aldermaston's real problems, however, cannot be seen. The site has been making and maintaining nuclear bombs for the past 52 years. Driven by the ruthless logic of the cold war and unencumbered by today's safety regulations, this has left a daunting legacy of pollution and waste whose scale is only just starting to be understood. Large areas of soil and groundwater are contaminated, thousands of drums of plutonium leftovers are piling up, and an ancient underground pipeline to the river Thames is lined with radioactive scale.
Huge dumps of toxic waste from old Soviet uranium mines are threatening to contaminate the water supplies of millions of people in Central Asia. Up to 23 dumps along the Mailuu-Suu river in southern Kyrgyzstan are at risk of leaking because of landslides and flooding in recent weeks.