Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Annex 1



  1.  Processing conditions within a cement kiln are more extreme than in so-called "high temperature incinerators", and waste-derived materials are subject to flame temperatures in excess of 2,000ºC, material temperatures of at least 1,450ºC, and gas residence times above 1,100ºC of between four and five seconds. The minimum residence time for non-gaseous material is about 30 minutes.

  2.  Cement making requires stable burning conditions and as such all waste-derived materials to be used as fuels are subject to strict compositional control. Not all waste disposal firms are capable of meeting these criteria, and not all waste streams are suitable for such use.

  3.  In addition to reducing the requirement for fossil fuels and other primary materials, the use of alternative materials results in a net environmental benefit and the potential for improved kiln performance, such as the reduction of NOx emissions.

  4.  Within the oxygen rich environment of the cement kiln, these conditions ensure the complete breakdown of even the most stable of chemical bonds, and any ash from the combustion of the hazardous waste is fixed safely into the glassy matrix of the product clinker.

  5.  The large mass of alkaline feed material at high temperature within the kiln imparts a stabilising effect as a result of its huge thermal inertia, and provides a mechanism for scrubbing any acidic off-gases that may arise from the combustion process.

  6.  For many years continuous emission monitors have been the industry standard for ensuring regulatory compliance. The trialling of new fuels is often subject to more stringent regulatory emission limits and these monitors provide a fast response to ensure compliance with these requirements.

  7.  The industry has invested in the installation of new data acquisition systems that collect and record information for analysis and presentation to the relevant regulatory bodies in a way that is easily understood.

Environmental Management Systems

  8.  All UK cement works are certified to ISO 14001, the international voluntary standard for Environmental Management Systems, and over 68 per cent of sites have additionally chosen to obtain accreditation to EMAS, the European Union Eco-Management and Audit Scheme. All sites are licensed under the EU IPPC Directive and will be subject to the Waste Incineration Directive.


  9.  The local communities around the factories are key stakeholders, with further groups including customers and suppliers. UK cement producers have regular communications with stakeholders as part of their normal operations. Frequent community engagement is supplemented on a site-by-site basis focussing on key licence to operate issues, for example quarry extensions and alternative fuels trials.

  The methods of community communications include:

    9.1  Newsletters updating the community on plans and progress.

    9.2  Open Door—members of the community can phone and request a meeting or site visit.

    9.3  Formal Open Days—to allow communities to see the factory in operation and (where applicable) fuels trials taking place.

    9.4  Liaison committees—to provide a forum for regular dialogue between the company and representatives of the local community.

    9.5  Weekly reports on the progress of trials.


  10.  The British Cement Association and each of its member companies have signed a Climate Change Levy Agreement with the Government undertaking to deliver an overall energy efficiency improvement, across the sector, of 25.6 per cent over the 1990-2010 period in order to qualify for the 80 per cent rebate on the levy. This is in excess of the Government's ambitious aspirational target of 20 per cent, its legally binding Kyoto target of 12.5 per cent, and is substantially higher than a number of comparable industry sectors.

  11.  Achievement of the sector's Climate Change targets is dependent upon two factors: the installation of new, energy efficient plant, and the increased use of waste-derived fuels, ("alternative fuels").

    11.1  A £500 million investment programme is being undertaken. Each cement company is investing in new plant and upgrading existing plant and equipment in order to improve energy efficiency and environmental performance.

    11.2  Buxton Lime Industries constructing new plant at Tunstead, near Buxton to replace old production facility.

    11.3  Lafarge Cement UK given planning permission to develop new plant at Medway in Kent.

    11.4  Castle Cement has received planning permission from the Welsh Assembly for a £48 million investment in a new kiln to replace old production facilities at Padeswood in North Wales and Lancashire.

    11.5  Rugby Cement has recently commissioned new plant at Rugby to replace four old facilities (seven kilns) at a total cost exceeding £170 million.

  12.  To meet its demanding Climate Change Agreement targets, the industry has little option but to increase its use of waste-derived fuels, a condition that has been formally acknowledged by government.

  13.  A Memorandum of Understanding defining the basis of the Climate Change Levy reduction targets was signed by DETR and BCA on 20 December 2000. This stated inter alia that the targets were based upon the installation of new plant, and 1 per cent year-on-year increases in the use of waste-derived material as fuel.

  14.  Confirmation of an assumed increase in the usage of waste-derived fuel was given in the exchange of letters on the Climate Change Levy Agreement between DEFRA and BCA on 12 October 2001.

  15.  With such an increase, by 2010 the substitution rate of waste-derived fuels would be 15 per cent. However, this potential for increased use of waste-derived materials is not currently being realised due to the lengthy authorisation procedure imposed by the Environment Agency as described in Annex III.

  16.  Within Europe, cement manufactured in the UK is unique in having a mandatory Climate Change Levy imposed upon its operation.

  17.  Additional to the costs of the extra taxation, there are considerable associated administrative burdens.

  18.  The practical outcome is the UK manufacturing operations are placed at a commercial disadvantage when compared with almost identical operations on mainland Europe. The majority of UK cement manufacturing capacity is controlled by European-based parent companies, whose investment and economic decisions are strongly influenced by factors such as these.

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Prepared 26 July 2002