HC Deb 20 June 1988 vol 135 cc459-60W
Mr. David Young

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what actions have been taken to reduce the emissions causing acid rain; by what percentage these emissions have been reduced to date; what further actions he proposes in this field; what is the largest percentage reduction; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Ray Michie

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the levels of sulphur emissions from power stations; and what action he is taking to have these levels reduced.

Ms. Walley

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he now intends to take to introduce an urgent programme of heavy cuts in the pollution from cars and power stations that causes acid rain.

Mr. Moynihan

Total United Kingdom sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions have fallen by nearly 40 per cent. since 1970, while nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions have remained broadly stable. We have authorised the Central Electricity Generating Board to retrofit flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) equipment to 6,000 MW of electrical generating capacity (three major power stations) and low-NOx burners to all 12 major CEGB coal-fired power stations. All new power stations are to have the technology to control acid emissions, to the requirements of Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution.

We have now agreed, subject to parliamentary reserve, to a new European Community directive on the control of emissions from large combustion plants, and I would refer the hon. Member to my answer today to my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley). This will represent a very substantial reduction in United Kingdom emissions.

The European Community Luxembourg package which was agreed last December provides for substantial reductions in motor vehicle emissions. We intend to implement the new standards in full. We expect that the Luxembourg agreement will fully compensate for the growth in traffic between now and 2000 and will achieve significant reductions in both primary and secondary pollutants.

Mr. David Young

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the water authorities succesfully prosecuted under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 for excess discharge of sewage; what action he has taken to see that plant is updated by the water authorities before any privatisation takes place; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Moynihan

I understand that Thames water authority did not contest a prosecution last year for breaches of discharge consent conditions. I know of no other completed cases against water authorities. A major programme to renew and upgrade sewage treatment works is in progress. Investment in sewage treatment and disposal is planned to rise in real terms from £217 million last year to £260 million this year. Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution is investigating all sewage treatment works which failed to comply with consents in 1987 to establish the reasons for non-compliance and the remedial measures water authorities are proposing to deal with the problems.