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Noxious Emissions

Volume 115: debated on Friday 8 May 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will outline the technological measures applied between 1970 and 1980 and between 1981 and 1987 at fossil fuel power stations operated by the Central Electricity Generating Board aimed specifically at reducing emissions of sulphur dioxide:(2) if he will outline the technological measures applied between 1970 and 1980 and between 1987 at fossil fuel power stations operated by the Central Electricity Generating Board aimed specifically at reducing emissions of nitrogen oxides;(3) what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards the target for reducing emissions from power stations of sulphur dioxide by 1993 and 1998, respectively; on what year's level those targets are based; what is the Government's policy on reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions from power stations; and if he will make a statement.

[pursuant to his reply, 6 May 1987, c. 456]: The Central Electricity Generating Board is required to use the best practicable means to prevent emissions, and to render them harmless and inoffensive, to the satisfaction of Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution. In the Inspectorate's view, abatement of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions has not until recently been practicable. The board has, therefore, been required to construct stacks sufficiently high to ensure that emissions are dispersed and diluted in the air to reduce ground level concentrations of the gases to the minimum. Battersea A and Bankside power stations also operated systems of flue gas desulphurisation up to 1974 and 1981 respectively.The inspectorate now considers that taking account both of the costs and availability of abatement technology, any new large fossil fuel-fired combustion plant should be equipped with means to limit SO

2 and NOx emissions.

The Government aim to reduce emissions of both SO2 and NOx by 30 per cent. on 1980 levels by the end of the 1990s, which in the case of SO2 will imply reductions of about 50 per cent. from 1970. The decision to require new plant to be fitted with appropriate abatement technology will make a contribution to the achievement of these targets, but in addition the Government have authorised the Central Electricity Generating Board to retrofit flue gas desulphurisation equipment to three major power stations and, as indicated in my answer today to the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Carlisle) to install low-NOx burners at the board's largest power stations.

The Government have set no targets for specific emission reductions by 1993 and 1998. In negotiations on the draft European Community directive on the control of emissions from large combustion plants, the Belgian Presidency has proposed 1993 and 1998 as dates for target emission reductions, to be achieved on a 1980 base. Negotiations on the directive are continuing, although substantial problems remain for several countries including the United Kingdom.