All modern power stations are subject to strict emissions controls that are enforced by the Environment Agency and designed to protect public health.
The controls have become ever more stringent over recent years and new technology has been developed to ensure that modern power plants do not cause air quality problems. For example, dioxins released by energy plants are at less than 1% of the levels emitted during the 1990s.
Gregory Barker, Minister of State at Department of Energy and Climate Change, stated the following in relation to the role of the Environment Agency after granting the permit required to operate a biomass plant:
"The agency would then regulate the plant by requiring continuous monitoring of the main pollutants for which strict limits are set and periodic monitoring for other substances, conducting regular announced and unannounced inspections, investigating non-compliance with any condition of the permit, and taking enforcement action if necessary."
The planning application submitted by Peel Energy has an entire chapter within the Environmental Statement dedicated to air quality issues. A lot of care has been taken to ensure that the design and operation of the plant would comply entirely with statutory emissions controls. The plant would also be fully compliant with the government’s Waste Incineration Directive.
Air quality modelling undertaken predicts that there would be no breaches of air quality objectives or guidelines, and the impact of BREP on the health of local people would be negligible.
The impact of BREP on residential areas in the Trafford and Salford Air Quality Management Areas alongside the M60 motorway is also predicted to be negligible.
A scientific health impact assessment has been carried out which demonstrates that the impact of BREP on the local population is well below national guidelines designed to protect public health.
As part of the planning process, the air quality modelling will be assessed by Trafford Council, the Environment Agency., the Health Protection Agency and Trafford Primary Care Trust.
“The evidence suggests that air pollution from incinerators makes up a fraction of one percent of the country’s particulate emissions. Industry and traffic account for more than fifty per cent.”
Health Protection Agency, 2009