Dáil Éireann - Volume 494 - 30 September, 1998

Written Answers - Air Pollution.

244. Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Public Enterprise the actions undertaken to date and the proposals on hand in her Department to effect a reduction on sulphur dioxide and NOx emissions from power generation; if she will outline the voluntary agreements entered into with producers in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17251/98]

[397] Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke): The EU Large Combustion Plant Directive (88/609/EC) regulates emissions of SO2 and NOx from large scale industrial plant. National commitments under protocols to the UN-ECE Geneva Convention on long-range transboundary air pollution also apply, however, and the voluntary arrangements entered into between the ESB and Government in this regard are more stringent.

Under the Geneva Convention Protocols, Ireland must limit national NOx emissions to their 1987 levels from 1994 onwards and reduce national SO2 emissions by 30 per cent on their 1980 level from 2000 onwards. Applied on a pro rata basis to the power generation sector, NOx and SO2 emissions reductions of 42,000 tonnes and 82,000 tonnes per annum respectively have been agreed between the ESB and Government.

ESB reports on its emissions on an annual basis to the Department of the Environmental and Local Government and to the Environment Protection Agency. ESB has met its commitments in the past and has plans in place to ensure compliance in the future. These plans include the additional use of gas, low sulphur oil and coal and the installation of additional low NOx burners at power stations.

The agreement between the ESB and Government regarding limitations on SO2 and NOx is a voluntary one and my Department is kept apprised of the ESB's performance in meeting these voluntary obligations.

The forthcoming measures necessary to implement the EU electricty directive are likely to result in the present voluntary agreement with the ESB being superseded by industry-wide arrangements to take account of new entrants to the market, in order to ensure that SO2 and NOx reduction commitments continue to be met.