Further memorandum submitted by Calor Gas Ltd (AQ 28)

On 26th January 2010, the Committee was sent a submission on behalf of Calor Gas Ltd calling attention to the extra mortality to be inflicted on the UK as a result of the biomass strategy.

The summary read as follows:
"The UK renewables strategy is over-reliant on a mass switch to biomass combustion. The air quality damage in terms of an increase in particulate emissions has been costed by Government at potentially 557 million as a result of premature death: in 2020 - one year alone - up to 1,175,000 life years will be lost. The corresponding impact of increased morbidity (disease) has not yet been measured by Government. The combustion of wood in large quantities will lead to rises in the emissions of most of the other pollutants meant to be addressed by the Air Quality Strategy, and in other dangerous pollutants not targeted by the Strategy. The cost of these emissions in terms of human health and the environment should be known, and thrown into an ultimate judgement of the viability of the policy."

Since then early this month HMG has issued a Consultation on the Renewable Heat Incentive, which at pages 34/5 indicates that HMG is minded to increase the allowable particulate emissions by 50%: "In the Renewable Energy Strategy we said that we would work with industry and other key stakeholders to introduce emissions performance standards for biomass boilers which are not adequately covered by other legislation. At the time we considered possible maximum emissions levels of 20g/GJ for particulate matter (PM), and 50g/GJ for nitrogen oxides (NOX). We have now reviewed these limits in consultation with stakeholders and on the basis of research commissioned by Defra, which suggests that they would rule out most currently produced biomass boilers. We are now minded to consider maximum emissions standards for biomass boilers of 30g/GJ for PM and 150g/GJ for NOX, at least in the initial implementation of the RHI. Defra is undertaking further consideration of the potential impact of these revised emissions standards on air quality, and in terms of health costs."

Presumably, the health costs and loss of life years will need to be drastically uprated. This gives the submission by Calor Gas much added force and urgency, and I hope the Committee will look into this aspect of policy because of the damage that will be inflicted otherwise on human hearts, lungs and brains.

5 February 2010