Last year, a study for the DTI identified lack of information and technical skills as a major barrier to the uptake of cleaner technologies. This view was echoed in a recent report by the Advisory Council on Science and Technology (ACOST) which urged the DTI to "consider providing a mechanism to facilitate easy and inexpensive access by UK companies to information on cleaner technology research and available cleaner technologies, both in the UK and overseas."
The DTI's decision to establish a centre to provide information and advice was announced in a parliamentary answer on 19 October. It followed a feasibility study which confirmed demand for such a service.
The DTI is hoping to establish the clearing house by the end of 1992. It will form the UK's link to an international database on cleaner processes set up by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). And it anticipates moves by UNEP to recommend that countries should designate focal points through which the international exchange of information on cleaner technologies can be promoted (see pp 37-38 ).
Details of the structure of the clearing house have yet to be decided. A contract will shortly be put out to tender. One possibility is that the clearing house may be combined with the DTI's environmental helpline, presently operated by Warren Spring Laboratory. The contract for the helpline expires in 1993, and the DTI may decide to merge the two services.