To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what priority she will give to encouraging the running of power stations fitted with flue gas desulphurisation plant in preference to cheaper, unabated plant.
Coal fired power stations are currently regulated by 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 IPC is being superseded by the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control ("IPPC") regime, established by an EC Directive of the same name. Installations that came into operation before 31 October 1999 will be regulated by IPPC from 2006. New installations or those undergoing substantial change will be required to apply for an IPPC permit with immediate effect.IPC requires operators to demonstrate that they will use the Best Available Techniques Not Entailing Excessive Cost ("BATNEEC") for their activities. BATNEEC have to be applied to prevent or minimise the release of prescribed substances and to render harmless any such substances which are released to air, water and land. If releases are made to more than one environmental medium, the Best Practicable Environmental Option is applied. The regulator assesses BATNEEC on a site by site basis and keeps authorisations under review. Depending on the characteristics of the plant, BATNEEC may include the use of flue gas desulphurisation.
In an IPPC permit application, operators are required to demonstrate that they will use the Best Available Techniques ("BAT") to control pollution from their activities. BAT aims to prevent, and where that is not practicable, to reduce to acceptable levels, emissions from the activities. BAT also aims to balance the cost to the operator against the benefits to the environment, and is assessed by the regulator on a site by site basis, taking into account European guidance on what constitutes BAT for that sector.