HC Deb 22 June 1993 vol 227 cc117-8W
Ms Short

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what prospects there are for reducing methane emissions from closed landfill sites; and what licensing requirements he will make for(a) existing and (b) new landfill sites in respect of methane emissions.

Mr. Yeo

The Government have published guidance on dealing with gas from closed landfill sites, and is undertaking further work on methods of controlling methane emissions. Resources are made available to authorities for investigation and remedial measures by means of supplementary credit approvals.

Conditions in individual waste disposal licences are a matter for waste regulation authorities. The Government issue guidance to authorities on the discharge of their licensing functions. In particular, revised guidance on landfill gas was issued as Waste Management Paper No. 27 in 1991; further guidance on licensing, which will deal with the need to control methane emissions, is in preparation.

Mr. Thomason

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what research has been undertaken by his Department into methane gas emissions from landfill sites.

Mr. Yeo

The Department recently commissioned the Energy Technology Support Unit (ETSU) of the Department of Trade and Industry to conduct a preliminary study on the subject. Their report was made available in draft form to the Watt committee and to the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution for their study of waste incineration. The final report will shortly be available as a departmental research report.

The ETSU study showed that there is considerable uncertainty about the contribution of landfills to United Kingdom methane emissions. Preliminary estimates lie in the range of 0.6 to 5.3 Mt/year, with a best estimate of about 2 Mt/year. Given the level of uncertainty in the input level, it is not possible to predict the level of emissions to within a factor of two of the best estimate. There are two main sources of uncertainty: waste arisings data and information on the amount of methane oxidation that occurs close to the surface of a landfill.