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Mander Organs
Colin Harvey

Defending The Pipe Organ

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What is this EU Directive really about? Is about the use of lead or the disposal of lead? If it is about the use of lead then Katherine Venning, on behalf of the IBO, points out that pipe makers and sheet lead casters are noted for their longevity of life. From my own father's involvement in the former letterpress-based printing industry, I know that many of his friends who were directly involved in the processing of molten (hot) metal, machine compositors and stereotypers, went on to live long and healthy lives well beyond retirement.

 

If it is about the disposal of heavy metals then I am all for control. But society in the UK increasingly takes a responsible attitude to the disposal of electronic devices containing printed circuitry. Indeed, local authorities in general have set up dumpit sites where items such as computers, refrigerators, television sets, etc., containing printed circuitry and other hazardous substances, are segregated. From my knowledge they are not all buried in the ground but are processed by specialist organisations who extract the microprocessors (they contain gold) and melt off the solder. Like many other waste products which councils collect, they are probably making some money from their efforts.

 

 

But this is a bit like the chicken and the egg, Barry. I think you will find that the reasons most Councils do have these facilities now is because European Legislation has required that they do. Prior to that once the war time ethos of recycling had evaporated - I can remember waste paper being collected for "salvage" - the UK was not that fantastic at recycling. The Harold Steptoes of this world went out of business and cars apart any handy field seemed to be the place for disposing of those things deemed to have outlived their usefulness. Remember Flanders and Swan and the "left foot laceless leather boot" ?

 

Our Council has within the last year supplied us with blue bins for recycling paper but prior to that I had to pay to recycle it at £20 a go. None of my neighbours availed of this service, needless to say. Paper clearly does not pose the same threats as toxic chemicals and heavy metals but it was capable of being recycled. However, virtually no local authority did because there was no discernible benefit to be gained for incurring this cost ; there was no demand from ratepayers to pay higher rates in order to provide recycling facilities !! So although European bureaucracy can frequently appear to have taken leave of its senses, this is not always the case: sometimes they get it right. In the case of waste disposal I think they have. It is unfortunate the pipe organ has been caught up in this but I think it is generally accepted this was by accident and not design. And given that there is a European wide pipe organ culture, I see no reason to doubt that this anomaly will be sorted out.

 

It is possible to get over excited about the consequences of conduct being declared illegal. Exceeding the speed limit has been illegal for over 100 years but motorists regularly do it. And the offence here is not even a police matter. If it is accepted that a mistake has been made and remedial action is set in train I would be somewhat surprised to find TSOs or whoever is tasked with local enforcement running about the country pursuing organ builders. There are many other calls on their time.

 

So take heart and do not get overly concerned about this. There is no evidence yet that this is other than an oversight which can be sorted out, and more easily if we do not get right up the noses of the people whose active co-operation can make it happen sooner rather than later.

 

BAC

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Interesting press release today from Peter Luff MP:

 

http://www.peterluff.org.uk/record.jsp?type=release&ID=131

 

Nice to see the issue raised in the House. However, despite the up-beat tone, I'm not sure it tells us anything we didn't know.

 

=======================

 

On the basis that two wrongs usually make things right, if one of the guilty party happens to be a government or government-department, I still think that the best approach is for people to point out to MEP's that there is on-going public-funding of what is about to become an illegal activity.

 

That way, THEY have to apply for the exemptions on behalf of themselves and their respective national governments and constituents.

 

Maybe I'm missing something, but I said this right at the beginning.

 

MM

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Interesting press release today from Peter Luff MP:
It appears to confirm that no-one "dealing" with this has a clue what they are on about. Consider the sentence:
The pipe organ industry can apply for an exemption for new electronic organs
B):(:(

 

Paul

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It appears to confirm that no-one "dealing" with this has a clue what they are on about.
Indeed. The minister's reply will almost certainly have been drafted by the DTI. "Electronic organs" here is presumably intended to mean "pipe organs with electronic components" as distinct from wholly mechanical ones, but who knows?

 

The positive point about this is that Peter Luff does appear to be genuinely concerned as opposed to merely going through the motions on behalf of a constituent (which is what my MP appears to be doing). Since he is Chairman of Worcester Cathedral Council I think we can probably assume that he will do all he can to ensure that the cathedral gets its new organs.

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I would imagine Worcester is rather worried about this situation, Adrian Lucas and Mr Tickell were on Sky News a few days ago, it looks as if the scheme is in jeopardy unless this is resolved.

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YESSS!!!

 

Commissioner Wallström, Vice-president of the EU, speaking to the EU parliament on 27 March:

 

"I'm so happy that I could have this opportunity to tell all the people in the UK that church organ pipes are not covered by the directive on electronic and electrical waste. You can fill all your churches with as much pipes – leaded pipes – as you want and the Commission will not interfere with that. So just make sure that the truth now and then comes out also to the poor people in the UK who rarely get some of the correct information out or distributed. So you can rest absolutely assured that it doesn't cover church organ pipes."

 

http://www.pipes4organs.org/diary.html

 

I think we may now reasonably hope that the DTI and the rest of the Commission will fall in line with this assurance.

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YESSS!!!

 

Commissioner Wallström, Vice-president of the EU, speaking to the EU parliament on 27 March:

 

"I'm so happy that I could have this opportunity to tell all the people in the UK that church organ pipes are not covered by the directive on electronic and electrical waste. You can fill all your churches with as much pipes – leaded pipes – as you want and the Commission will not interfere with that. So just make sure that the truth now and then comes out also to the poor people in the UK who rarely get some of the correct information out or distributed. So you can rest absolutely assured that it doesn't cover church organ pipes."

 

http://www.pipes4organs.org/diary.html

 

I think we may now reasonably hope that the DTI and the rest of the Commission will fall in line with this assurance.

 

 

NOOOOO, or at least not yet; such rejoicing may well be premature. The latest view of the IBO - and I hope they won't mind me paraphrasing it in this way - after a meeting last Tuesday with the DTI, is that they are not out of the wood yet. It is not clear, for example, how reliable or authoritative Mme Walström's pronouncement actually is. In addition, the DTI's offer to back a claim to the EU for exemption is too risky an option, as exemptions have to be re-negotiated every 4 years, and the assumption is that the industry will use the intervening period to find an alternative technology. For the IBO this represents a permanent sword of Damocles hanging over the industry. Who knows how the eurocrats will view an application for exemption 12 years hence, for example?

 

As one would expect, there seems to be no clear understanding across Europe in the matter and the Commission has asked for further consultation with member states, ie. the subject is not as cut-and-dried as the DTI would clearly like it to be.

 

The only proper answer, it seems to me, is to remove pipe organs completely and permanently from of the scope of the of the Directive, which was never intended to include them in the first place.

 

What is it in the minds of (British) civil servants that they can't see their way to a commonsense solution? Why are they in such obvious thrall to the EU Commission?

 

Perhaps one of our European contributors (Barry, Friedrich, Pierre) can say what the position is in their own country, in particular among organbuilders.

 

JS

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This may be summarized as this: They do not worry as much, and seem confident

the directive won't hurt their business.

Some even talked about an April fool.

Maybe the truth lies just in between!

 

It is evident each country within the EC understands any european rule

with its own sensitivity.

This should be an asset; in this case we should be gratefull to the british

to have pointed out this problem, even if it would have been only

a theoretical one -better to be sure!-

 

But I cannot help thinking the Europe should be made by/with the

people rather than for money and administrative regulations first!

Living in a frontier area between three languages here, it is amazing

-and frightfull- to realize to what degree these three neighbourgs completely

ignore each others. Even the "people" scandals they follow are not the same...

 

Best wishes,

 

Pierre/Piet/Peter

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The only proper answer, it seems to me, is to remove pipe organs completely and permanently from of the scope of the of the Directive, which was never intended to include them in the first place.

 

What is it in the minds of (British) civil servants that they can't see their way to a commonsense solution?  Why are they in such obvious thrall to the EU Commission?

 

 

 

=========================

 

 

This particular answer is no answer at all, and would be unworkable on the gounds that it discriminates between different manufacturers and end-users of electronic equipment.

 

The directive is entirely sensible in all respects except the inclusion of organ-pipes as part of an electrical or electronic "device."

 

I find it much more worrying that a department which pretends to be about Trade & Industry, is unable to differentiate between electrical components, electronic circuit-boards and air-blown organ pipes.

 

Even my 15 year-old niece had not the slightest dificulty in making those distinctions.

 

MM

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=========================

This particular answer is no answer at all, and would be unworkable on the gounds that it discriminates between different manufacturers and end-users of electronic equipment.

 

The directive is entirely sensible in all respects except the inclusion of organ-pipes as part of an electrical or electronic "device."

 

I find it much more worrying that a department which pretends to be about Trade & Industry, is unable to differentiate between electrical components, electronic circuit-boards and air-blown organ pipes.

 

Even my 15 year-old niece had not the slightest dificulty in making those distinctions.

 

MM

 

Point taken - I seem to be guilty of the same impreciseness of wording shown by many people in this whole sorry debate - I meant, of course, exemption for organ pipes rather than organs themselves.

 

Among those who have managed to gain (permanent?) exemption from the new regulations are makers of medical equipment and military hardware (using lead) and barometer manufacturers (using mercury). It would be interesting to know how they achieved this.

 

JS

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Point taken - I seem to be guilty of the same impreciseness of wording shown by many people in this whole sorry debate - I meant, of course, exemption for organ pipes rather than organs themselves.

 

Among those who have managed to gain (permanent?) exemption from the new regulations are makers of medical equipment and military hardware (using lead) and barometer manufacturers (using mercury).  It would be interesting to know how they achieved this.

 

JS

 

=============================

 

 

I hear that one organ-builder, currently involved in a new organ in a "certain place" somewhere off the M5, has more or less decided to carry on regardless of the EU legislation....good for him!

 

As I see it, there IS a problem even if people choose to ignore the directive, on the assumption that those involved in environmental protection and EU law-enforcement will do nothing about new pipe-organs.

 

Once law comes into force, we are in a "black and white" situation, whereas the colour "grey" currently seems to dominate the issue (as well as red, black,puce, green and white!)

 

Imagine that you were a manufacturer of digital-organs, onto whom a great deal of trouble and expense had been dumped by the EU. In a competitive, market situation ,where there is a straight choice between a lovely new two-manual pipe-organ, and an all-singing, flashing and dancing 4-manual digital instrument, I know of certain salesmen who have not the slightest scruples.

 

They WOULD draw attention to the EU legislation, and they MAY threaten to report the matter to the relevant authorities if the pipe-organ option were to be chosen.

 

This makes the business of exemption particularly important, but in just 12 weeks, I suspect that this is impossible. That is why I believe more direct action is required, which highlights the folly of the legislation and the small, but highly significant oversight in the drafting of it.

 

Keep up the pressure, and if needs be, make the legislators appear foolish or suitable targets for ridicule.

 

MM

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The directive is entirely sensible in all respects except the inclusion of organ-pipes as part of an electrical or electronic "device."
But actually the directives don't include organ pipes. They don't mention them at all. Therein lies the problem: it leaves open the possibility that a later legal clarification could decide that they are forbidden (as MM points out). The IBO is concerned about this, whereas it seems that continental builders don't see a problem. This difference is entirely understandable insofar as Britain always does things by the rule-book while continental countries don't necessarily.

 

One organist in our area has just had a letter from his MP saying that the Government (meaning the DTI, I assume) has undertaken to secure an exemption for the UK. Now I'm not a legal eagle and I'm quite certain that there are more nuances to this debate than have been put in the public domain, so I may have it all wrong, but I feel uneasy because, as I see it, if an exemption is granted it will tacitly establish that organ pipes do indeed come within the terms of the directive, whereas at the moment that is not certain.

 

If that is the case, it seems to me that the only solution is to press the Commission for explicit confirmation that Commissioner Wallstöm's statement is correct - that organ pipes are not covered by the directives at all.

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But actually the directives don't include organ pipes. They don't mention them at all. Therein lies the problem: it leaves open the possibility that a later legal clarification could decide that they are forbidden (as MM points out). The IBO is concerned about this, whereas it seems that continental builders don't see a problem. This difference is entirely understandable insofar as Britain always does things by the rule-book while continental countries don't necessarily.

 

One organist in our area has just had a letter from his MP saying that the Government (meaning the DTI, I assume) has undertaken to secure an exemption for the UK. Now I'm not a legal eagle and I'm quite certain that there are more nuances to this debate than have been put in the public domain, so I may have it all wrong, but I feel uneasy because, as I see it, if an exemption is granted it will tacitly establish that organ pipes do indeed come within the terms of the directive, whereas at the moment that is not certain.

 

If that is the case, it seems to me that the only solution is to press the Commission for explicit confirmation that Commissioner Wallstöm's statement is correct - that organ pipes are not covered by the directives at all.

 

========================

 

 

Well, an isolated statement from Commissioner Wallstöm is NOT, I would think, any sort of definitive statement of law.

 

As I see it, the fact that pipe-organs plug into the electric supply just as electronic ones do, is enough evidence that the directive would therefore include a pipe-organ in the list of things described as "electrical devices." It is precisely for that reason that the DTI has interpreted the directive so, and for no other.

 

In their ignorance (and this is what it is) officers of the DTI have further clouded the issue with statements which amount to nothing.

 

In any event, if the WEEE directive makes enviromental sense, then one might hope that certain parts of organs ARE covered by the directive; especially in this age of computerised control-systems.

 

Of course, on a light-hearted note, the organ could be exempt automatically, on the basis that they have been used as repositories for weapons-grade lead throughout European history!

 

:lol:

 

The BIG difference about the UK and the rest of Europe, is that THEY use common-sense, whilst we pass ever more laws and appoint ever more petty officials to enforce them. One suspects that the enviroment has nothing much to fear so long as there are people dressed in Barbour jackets, carrying clip-boards and armed with lead pencils.

 

Perhaps plumb-bumb is what the DTI are collectively talking from.

 

MM

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But actually the directives don't include organ pipes. They don't mention them at all. Therein lies the problem: it leaves open the possibility that a later legal clarification could decide that they are forbidden (as MM points out). The IBO is concerned about this, whereas it seems that continental builders don't see a problem. This difference is entirely understandable insofar as Britain always does things by the rule-book while continental countries don't necessarily.

 

One organist in our area has just had a letter from his MP saying that the Government (meaning the DTI, I assume) has undertaken to secure an exemption for the UK. Now I'm not a legal eagle and I'm quite certain that there are more nuances to this debate than have been put in the public domain, so I may have it all wrong, but I feel uneasy because, as I see it, if an exemption is granted it will tacitly establish that organ pipes do indeed come within the terms of the directive, whereas at the moment that is not certain.

 

If that is the case, it seems to me that the only solution is to press the Commission for explicit confirmation that Commissioner Wallstöm's statement is correct - that organ pipes are not covered by the directives at all.

 

I tend to agree that this is probably the best way to proceed. As has been pointed out already the idea of an exemption is closely involved with the idea of allowing time to adjust by developing an alternative approach but other than an all wooden pipes approach (like Frederiksborg Castle, if I have the spelling right) there is no alternative to pipe metal about to hove into view.

 

As to nuances to the debate I think it is perhaps more readily understandable in terms of a frame of reference developed over a long period of time. The Consumer Protection Act 1987 introduced into English law strict liability for defective products to the end-user (previously this had only been available to someone who stood in a contractual relationship with a seller, other end users being required to establish "fault"). This was itself a European development which had taken nearly 20 years to come to fruition and thus owed its origins to events in the 1960s particularly Thalidomide (if you can remember that) and problems with the motor industry encapsulated in Ralph Nader's "Unsafe at any Speed". As with a good deal of EU/EEC legislation the subtext is heavily influenced by considerations of forestalling a Europe wide level playing field being prevented by individual countries enacting different levels of protection for their citizens resulting in goods not being able to be marketed across the whole community.

 

One of the issues that needed to be resolved was that of complex products like cars constructed from numerous components bought in by the car manufacturer. Should the car manufacturer be responsible for a defect in a clearly separate and identifiable product (the usual example was a tyre) which had failed and caused injury or should the liability go only to the manufacturer of the component (ie the tyre in the example) ? The decision went in favour of placing the liability on the car manufacturer, in other words looking at a complex assemblage of various parts as a single entity, even though it would have been perfectly possible to take another view. I think from that time, and as a result of that experience , the standard EU approach to complex machinery was to view it as an aggregate whole, rather than a collection of parts.

 

 

Now organs and cars are not very alike but organs do resemble cars in being highly complex machines using a great range of parts (and involving co-ordinated hand and foot control in the normal case). So I do not find it all that surprising that when we come to to the RoHS/ WEEE directive the "standard" approach resulted in the view that if a particular component part is clearly covered than the whole machine is implicated. This obviously had unfortunate consequences when applied to the pipe organ, but it is certainly not impossible to draft round the situation by ensuring that the rules apply only to the electrical components themselves and not to the larger entity in which those components are incorporated.

 

Since there is a significant organ tradition in many member states it ought to be possible to form a combined front which would be difficult to gainsay. But it will require a certain amount of sustained effort.

 

BAC

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MM, you're absolutely right. I don't disagree with one word of your post - but I still stand by mine!

 

To my mind the most amusing thing in this sorry saga was the admission by the Allen Organ Company that their products were not "musical instruments". Hear hear!!

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MM, you're absolutely right. I don't disagree with one word of your post - but I still stand by mine!

 

To my mind the most amusing thing in this sorry saga was the admission by the Allen Organ Company that their products were not "musical instruments". Hear hear!!

 

========================

 

I've just had the most extraordinary thought!

 

There is a word used by organ-builders, the metal industry, pipe-makers and organ-consultants, and that word is "re-casting."

 

Now this word has several different meanings, depending upon common usage, which can apply to broken-legs just as much as re-scaling the Great Mixture.

 

I assume that my motor-car is made from the remains of an indeterminate number of old washing-machines and peggy-tubs, and in the process, the steel has been re-cast in some way.

 

If an organ-builder can retain a straight-face when confronted by a man from the DTI, and tell him that the shiny instrument in the organ-loft contains very, very old pipes, then who could prove otherwise?

 

Presumably, the trick is never to make a NEW organ at all, but to ensure that everything built is, in reality, a "recasting" of an old instrument, but with all new wooden parts.

 

That wouldn't be telling porky-pies would it?

 

:lol:

 

MM

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This obviously had unfortunate consequences when applied to the pipe organ, but it is certainly not impossible to draft round the situation by ensuring that the rules apply only to the electrical components themselves and not to the larger entity in which those components are incorporated.

 

Since there is a significant organ tradition in many member states it ought to be possible to form a combined front which would be difficult to gainsay. But it will require a certain amount of sustained effort.

 

BAC

 

=========================

 

There is a deliscious irony in all this, in that it would be entirely legal to have a new organ (with lead pipes) powered by water, a windmill or choristers chained to a treadmill.

 

One couldn't obviously use a petrol-engine due to the fact that it has electrical components, but I quite like the idea of a wood-burning steam-engine or a vintage single-cylinder oil engine which would need burning oily-rags to get the thing going.

 

Methinks it is time to write a letter to "The Times"

 

:lol:

 

MM

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Guest Barry Oakley

I have received this morning a response from Liz Lynne, MEP, following my initial contact with her re the EU Directive. She has enclosed the response from the EU Commissioner, Reijo Kempinnen, which I print below.

 

Thank you for your message, expressing concerns for the future of pipe organ building.

 

British organ builders need not fear for the future of their art and craft. The European Union has no wish to jeopardise this ancient tradition. Our only aim is to ensure that the intended health and safety aims of forthcoming legislation are achieved as decided by European Governments and the European Parliament.

 

This legislation, the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive, should come into force by the first of July 2006.

 

Current media and broader interest appear to have misunderstood the Directive's requirements and their impact upon the organ industry. Much of the current reaction suggests that the organ industry will not be able to undertake repairs to large, historic organs such as those in Salisbury and St Paul's Cathedrals and Birmingham Town Hall. This is not the case.

 

Since the law applies to new products only, existing church organs are not affected.

 

Organists can continue to play pipe organs, you can enjoy their beautiful music and the industry can even continue to repair and upgrade them with lead without any further restrictions under RoHS.

 

The purpose of the law is protecting human health and the environment by restricting the use of certain hazardous substances in new equipment.

 

Under the law new products that are put on the market may not contain more than 0.1 per cent lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium and other substances that are known to be extremely dangerous to our health and environment.

 

The European Commission tries very hard to avoid unnecessary or overly detailed laws in Europe. Whenever possible, we try to ensure that European laws are implemented in a manner that takes into account specific circumstances.

 

The European Commission has taken very seriously the concerns expressed by both the industry and the general public with regards to this sensitive issue. Therefore we have decided to take urgent action to address your concerns. On March 22, the Commission has written to the Member States, with a view to clarifying, together with them, to what extent pipe organs fall within the scope of the RoHS Directive. Once we know the outcome the Commission will issue a statement and update its Guidance Document accordingly.

 

We will of course keep you fully informed of any development in this matter.

 

In the meantime, we would like to stress that, in any event, since the law applies to new products only, existing organs are untouched by the Directive and major repairs even with lead may still continue.

 

Equally, even if it is found in the final analysis that pipe organs fall within the scope of the Directive, manufacturers can still apply for a derogation to continue to produce organ pipes containing more than 0.1 per cent lead. As far as we know, no such derogation has been applied yet.

 

We would like to emphasise that the directive was adopted by all EU Member States, including the UK, in 2002. The text allowed four and a half years for transposition into national legislation.

 

Yours sincerely

Reijo Kemppinen

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I have received this morning a response from Liz Lynne, MEP, following my initial contact with her re the EU Directive. She has enclosed the response from the EU Commissioner, Reijo Kempinnen, which I print below.

 

Thank you for your message, expressing concerns for the future of pipe organ building.

 

British organ builders need not fear for the future of their art and craft. The European Union has no wish to jeopardise this ancient tradition. Our only aim is to ensure that the intended health and safety aims of forthcoming legislation are achieved as decided by European Governments and the European Parliament.

 

This legislation, the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive, should come into force by the first of July 2006.

 

Current media and broader interest appear to have misunderstood the Directive's requirements and their impact upon the organ industry. Much of the current reaction suggests that the organ industry will not be able to undertake repairs to large, historic organs such as those in Salisbury and St Paul's Cathedrals and Birmingham Town Hall. This is not the case.

 

Since the law applies to new products only, existing church organs are not affected.

 

Organists can continue to play pipe organs, you can enjoy their beautiful music and the industry can even continue to repair and upgrade them with lead without any further restrictions under RoHS.

 

The purpose of the law is protecting human health and the environment by restricting the use of certain hazardous substances in new equipment.

 

Under the law new products that are put on the market may not contain more than 0.1 per cent lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium and other substances that are known to be extremely dangerous to our health and environment.

 

The European Commission tries very hard to avoid unnecessary or overly detailed laws in Europe. Whenever possible, we try to ensure that European laws are implemented in a manner that takes into account specific circumstances.

 

The European Commission has taken very seriously the concerns expressed by both the industry and the general public with regards to this sensitive issue. Therefore we have decided to take urgent action to address your concerns. On March 22, the Commission has written to the Member States, with a view to clarifying, together with them, to what extent pipe organs fall within the scope of the RoHS Directive. Once we know the outcome the Commission will issue a statement and update its Guidance Document accordingly.

 

We will of course keep you fully informed of any development in this matter.

 

In the meantime, we would like to stress that, in any event, since the law applies to new products only, existing organs are untouched by the Directive and major repairs even with lead may still continue.

 

Equally, even if it is found in the final analysis that pipe organs fall within the scope of the Directive, manufacturers can still apply for a derogation to continue to produce organ pipes containing more than 0.1 per cent lead. As far as we know, no such derogation has been applied yet.

 

We would like to emphasise that the directive was adopted by all EU Member States, including the UK, in 2002. The text allowed four and a half years for transposition into national legislation.

 

Yours sincerely

Reijo Kemppinen

 

Very interesting. It seems that Don't Panic should be the order of the day (as I rather suspected might be the case) while still ensuring that steps are taken to turn an "understanding" into a clear cut rule. Meanwhile, I think people might carry on as normal, without worrying that the police will turn up en masse on July 1 and cart off to jail anyone found working on the instalation of a new organ.

 

BAC

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Very interesting. It seems that Don't Panic should be the order of the day (as I rather suspected might be the case) while still ensuring that steps are taken to turn an "understanding" into a clear cut rule. Meanwhile,  I think  people might carry on as normal, without worrying that the police will turn up en masse on July 1 and cart off to jail anyone found working on the instalation of a new organ.

 

BAC

Indeed, yes, on all counts. One question people have with me is how the Government intends to enforce this rule and who would take action against organbuilders for installing pipe organs.

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