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National Air Quality Strategy

Volume 403: debated on Monday 7 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement about how the National Air Quality Strategy will be applied to coal fired power stations. [107035]

The Government's policies and measures for reducing air pollution from industry, transport and other sources are set out in the 'Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland', published in January 2000 and the Addendum to the Strategy, published in February 2003. The Strategy contains ambient air quality standards for nine key pollutants and the dates between 2003 and 2010 by which they should be met. The Environment Agency is responsible for the regulation of larger power stations and other major industrial processes in England and Wales. The Environment Act 1995 requires that the Agency takes account of the requirements of the Air Quality Strategy in discharging its pollution control functions.The larger coal fired power stations are currently regulated by the Environment Agency through the Integrated Pollution Control ("IPC") regime. IPC was established by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and regulates industrial pollution through a system of authorisation. IPC is being superseded by the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control ("IPPC") regime, which implements an EC directive of the same name. Power stations that came into operation before 31 October 1999 will be regulated by IPPC from 2006. New installations or those undergoing substantial change are required to apply for an IPPC permit with immediate effect.Sulphur dioxide from power stations is controlled by system emission limits that restrict the amount that can be discharged in any given year. Limits are set for individual sites and for companies operating several sites to take account of the potential for local air pollution and long-range pollution. In order that the combined impact of adjacent power stations and other sources will not lead to a breach of the objective, operators are required to develop a local air quality management and monitoring plan which will ensure adherence with the Air Quality Strategy by 2005.