§ Mr. Jim Cunningham
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures are in place to encourage power plants to reduce their SO2 emissions and to increase the use of flue gas desulphurisation systems. 
§ Mr. Meacher
[holding answer 13 January 2003]Power plants are currently regulated under the Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) regime. IPC is established by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and regulates industrial pollution through a system of108W permits. Operators are required to demonstrate that they would be carrying out the Best Available Techniques not Entailing Excessive Cost (BATNEEC) for their activities before being issued an authorisation to operate. BATNEEC is applied to prevent, and where that is not practicable, to minimise releases of substances to air, water and land.
Authorisations set strict limits for sulphur dioxide emissions for the given power plant. In demonstrating the use of BATNEEC the operator would be required to consider techniques that would reduce emissions (including the application of flue gas desulphurisation). Each application is considered on a case by case basis, but all applicants must demonstrate BATNEEC.
IPC is being superseded by the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) regime, established by a Directive of the same name (EC/96/61). Existing power plants will be regulated by IPPC from 2006; new plants or those undergoing substantial change will be required to apply for an IPPC permit with immediate effect. Operators are required to demonstrate that they use the Best Available Techniques (BAT) for their activities prior to a permit being issued. Again, permits will include limits on sulphur dioxide emissions.