Britain is worst in Europe for power station pollution

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Britain is Europe's worst polluter, with 18 of the continent's 50 filthiest power stations, which are responsible for killing more than 7,600 people a year, a new report concludes.

The report, which will enhance the country's reputation as the "dirty man of Europe", says Britain has nearly three times as many of the worst air polluters as its nearest rival. Poland has seven, the Czech Republic six, Spain five and Germany four. Compiled by a British environmental consultancy for the Secretariat on Acid Rain, a Swedish organisation, it comes to its devastating conclusion after studying details of emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from 6,600 plants in the 25 European Union countries, plus Norway and Switzerland.

Using official EU calculations of the effects of the pollution, it concludes that the 18 plants kill a total of 7,660 Europeans every year, mainly from heart and respiratory diseases. This amounts to one in 10 of the deaths caused by all the plants studied.

One reason for Britain's poor performance has been its reluctance to use clean-up technology. For many years only one power station in the country - Drax - had installed FGD equipment to cut sulphur pollution, compared to more than 140 in Europe. The technology is now being fitted to most coal-fired power stations.

Scottish Power said it "meets the stringent air quality standards set by the EU and UK authorities". In a comment echoed by the Association of Electricity Producers, it called the report "simplistic, scaremongering and absurd as it is impossible to individualise impacts from long-range pollutants in a modern industrial society".

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