HC Deb 24 July 1996 vol 282 cc479-80W
Mr. Peter Atkinson

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what progress is being made with the proposals for burning bovine wastes in power stations; what further regulatory clearances will be required for such disposal; and how environmental costs will be addressed. [40101]

Mr. Lang

The Government are exploring all practical options for the disposal, after rendering, of wastes arising from the over 30-month slaughter scheme, that is, tallow and meat and bone meal. Among other steps, it has asked the power generators to consider the possibility of burning such wastes in power stations. National Power and PowerGen are currently conducting combustion testing on the materials at combustion test facilities at Didcot, Oxfordshire and Ratcliffe on Soar, Nottinghamshire, respectively. These tests are being monitoring by the Environment Agency.

It is too early to say whether burning of these materials in power stations will be feasible. If it is, however, authorisation by the Environment Agency—or in Scotland by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency—under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 would be required for any variations in the authorised process at any station proposed to be used. The relevant agency would have to consider whether any proposed variations were substantial. If it so concludes, the proposals must be advertised, and 28 days allowed for representations before the agency decides whether to authorise the proposed variations.

There might also be a need to vary the consents which have been given to the operation of power stations under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989. Alternatively, it may be appropriate to disapply section 36 as provided for in section 36(4), in which case normal planning rules would apply in respect of any proposed changes to any station for this purpose. In either case, an environmental impact assessment may be required if the proposed changes were likely to have a significant effect on the environment.