Letter: Power and clean air

Sir: In your report "Power pollution linked to asthma" (27 May) you say that, according to research by the Atmospheric Particles Expert Group (APEG), power stations may be a major source of particulate air pollution. I would point out that APEG has not yet finalised the conclusions of its research and a preliminary draft report is not expected to be circulated for peer review until July. It is not possible therefore to comment on details of the research at this stage.

The Government's Digest of Environmental Statistics shows that road transport is responsible for about twice as much fine particulate emissions (known as PM10) as power stations, and other industry for about three times as much. Coal- and oil-burning power stations are mostly remote from urban areas and do not normally contribute significantly to urban "particle pollution episodes". The electricity industry's own research indicates that the maximum PM10 concentration downwind of a 2000MW coal station is well within the Government's air quality objective for 2005.

However, the electricity generators are far from complacent about their emissions. PM10 and other emissions have all fallen substantially in recent years, with the switch from coal to gas, with improvements to dust capture plant and the installation of flue gas desulphurisation plant, and further reductions are expected.


Chief Executive

Electricity Association

London SW1