HC Deb 18 April 1929 vol 227 cc409-11
47. Viscount SANDON

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will immediately refer the question of the complete elimination of sulphur fumes from the workings of electricity generating plants to some body for scientific investigation and research; and whether, in the meantime, he will insist on sites for such purposes being chosen with full regard to the public interest, especially in the case of Battersea, in view of the effect of such fumes on the fabric of the Houses of Parliament?

Colonel ASHLEY

In approving sites for power stations regard is, of course, had to the public interest and opportunity is given for the hearing of any representations made, and no site in the County of London can be approved by the Electricity Commission without the consent of the Commissioners of Works unless the authority of Parliament has been obtained.

When consent was given to the erection of the Battersea Power Station, which is now under construction, an obligation was placed upon the London Power Company to take the best known precautions for the due consumption of smoke and for preventing, so far as reasonably practicable, the evolution of oxides of sulphur. I am assured by the Electricity Commissioners that in this modern power station effective steps can and will be taken to prevent the emission of grit and smoke. I am also informed that, with a view to compliance with their obligation, the company have been employing research chemists to work on the problem of the elimination of sulphur fumes, and have stated that satisfactory results have already been obtained in laboratory experiments.

In view, however, of the public interests involved, the Electricity Commissioners, with my approval, have asked the Government chemist to examine these results and to keep in close touch with the progress, of the company's investigation. In conjunction with the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research he will advise the First Commissioner of Works and the Electricity Commissioners as to the efficacy of the measures proposed to be adopted to comply with the conditions on which consent has been given to the erection of the new station.

The Ministers concerned with the various aspects of the question will remain in consultation with one another and watch it closely.


Is it not a fact that in the design of this station every possible device has been introduced to reduce to a minimum the fumes emitted that would be a danger to the public health?

Colonel ASHLEY

Exactly, but apart front that, of which I have no intimate knowledge, the condition is placed upon the company that they should, as far as possible, with the best up-to-date methods eliminate the sulphur fumes, and personnally I have no doubt that they will succeed in so doing; and the consent for the erection of this station is contingent upon that.

Viscount SANDON

Is it not a fact that; in Cologne, in similar conditions, there are not any fumes at all?

Colonel ASHLEY

That is what we hope for here when these conditions are carried out.


Can my right hon. and gallant Friend say if these regulations apply to all other power stations in the London area?

Colonel ASHLEY

No. The newer stations will have this condition imposed.


Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the new power station is going to be more efficient in regard to suppressing this nuisance than the old gas company working in Battersea, and other private institutions working there?

Colonel ASHLEY

This has nothing to do with gas. We are dealing here with an electricity station.


Does the Minister seriously suggest that there are no sulphur fumes coming out of gas works?

Colonel ASHLEY

Of that I have no knowledge, but this question deals with the new Battersea electricity works.


Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman accept the knowledge given to him by me that sulphurous vapours coming from the private enterprise of the gas company are ten times worse?

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