A SPECIAL workshop will be held in Hongkong and Guangzhou next week to try to hammer out a plan for dealing with increasing pollution levels in the Pearl River. Officials and academics from Hongkong, Macau, Guangzhou and Europe will attend the gathering, the first of its kind for the region. They will look at standardising pollution monitoring methods, which differ around the delta, and exchanging this information so any declines or improvements can be noted. More importantly, it is hoped they will come up with proposals for cleaning up the area and preventing further deterioration. The Pearl River run-off, often contaminated with sewage and livestock waste discharges, washes through Hongkong waters and contributes in part to pollution in Victoria Harbour. The river is also increasingly at risk of contamination from toxic metals as industrialisation of the delta booms, not always with proper controls on factory discharges. The idea for the workshop came from talks between the British Council and Hongkong's Environmental Protection Department (EPD) on water pollution. The director of the council's south China office, Mr Martin Davidson, said: ''The EPD mentioned the problem of the Pearl River delta and the need for a green strategy for all the parties sharing the delta to tackle the pollution problems.'' His colleague Ms Clare Keates, the council's assistant director of education, science and technology, said not much was known about the current overall situation in the Pearl River because of varying monitoring programmes. The discussions prompted the council, usually associated with cultural and language-training programmes, to look at ways of facilitating co-operation. The council has taken on more environment work world-wide. The meeting will be mostly at the technical level so solutions can be looked at clear of political concerns, although such details as costs will be considered. Thirty-nine participants have been invited, including academics and clean-up experts from Britain and Europe. The 14 British and European participants were invited because of their experience in cleaning up rivers, such as the Thames, and in bringing governments together for clean-ups, such as for the Rhine. Observers from the World Bank and the European Community's environment aid programme will also attend, leading to hopes they might fund some of the proposals that emerge from the workshop. Mr Davidson said they did not expect all the answers to come out of the week-long session, but at least hoped for agreement on the need for a strategy and what that should encompass, as well as on water pollution monitoring and the exchange of this information between Hongkong, China and Macau. The results will be published and copies handed over to the Macau, Hongkong and Chinese governments. The workshop is being jointly organised by the British Council and the Guangdong Environmental Protection Bureau, with funding coming from the council, the European Community, the Hongkong Institute of Engineers and Cathay Pacific.