HC Deb 14 May 1991 vol 191 c69W
Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his policy with respect to the abatement of emissions of sulphur dioxide.

Mr. Trippier

The Government's policies for the abatement of air pollution were explained in chapter 11 of the White Paper "This Common Inheritance". The United Kingdom is committed, under European Community legislation, to cut emissions of sulphur dioxide from existing power stations and other large combustion plant by 60 per cent. by 2003, compared with 1980 levels. Under part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, operators of industrial plant are being required to use best available techniques not entailing excessive cost to reduce harmful emissions, including sulphur dioxide. I am arranging to place in the Library copies of maps which illustrate the expected effects of these policies by 2005. They show that the areas in which our soils and freshwaters are subject to sulphur depositions in excess of "critical loads"—the levels which they can tolerate without adverse effects—should be very substantially reduced by that date: to around 8 per cent. of the United Kingdom surface area in respect of soils and around 4 per cent. of the surface area of Scotland in the case of freshwaters—freshwaters maps are not yet available for the remainder of the United Kingdom.

The maps have been prepared to inform discussions in the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, which are intended to lead to a new international agreement on sulphur dioxide by November 1992. My Department will also be issuing shortly a brochure to explain the basis of this mapping work.