Stricter air pollution rules approved by the European Parliament

07 July 2010 17:43  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS news)--The European Parliament has approved a directive that aims to apply stricter rules on air pollution, while making legislation clearer and easier to implement, it said on Wednesday.

The Industrial Emissions Directive, which on Wednesday received its second reading in the European Parliament, would implement tighter rules on air pollution, although EU member states have been given some flexibility to extend deadlines for powerplants or even waive the rules for certain installations.

The directive updates and merges seven pieces of existing legislation, including directives on large combustion plants and Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC), the latter covering around 52,000 industrial and agricultural installations with high pollution potential, the parliament said.

"After more than two years of difficult negotiations we have a compromise that will help to improve the implementation of the directive,” said Holger Krahmer, the member of the European Parliament (MEP) responsible for guiding the legislation through parliament.

“Compared to the current situation, this offers more clarity and a better chance of a level playing field across Europe on environmental requirements for industrial installations," he added.

Stricter limits on nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and dust would be introduced from 2016. However, MEPs agreed that member states could use ‘transitional national plans’ to allow large combustion plants (including fossil-fuel power stations) up to July 2020 to meet the rules, while some older plants might not have to meet the targets, as long as they closed by the end of 2023 or operated for a maximum of 17,500 hours after 2016, whichever happened first.

The Chemical Industries Association (CIA) welcomed the directive and called it a compromise package.

"We are pleased by the adoption by the European Parliament of the compromise package, which we believe is a fair compromise between the various political positions and which lays a solid framework for achieving environmental goals as well as maintaining a competitive European industry,” said Anne-Gaelle Collot, the CIA's head of environment.

“The text contains workable provisions for large combustion plants as well as the necessary flexibility to ensure a risk-based approach to environmental permitting in line with the current UK implementation of European environmental permitting legislation,” she added.

However, Krahmer was unhappy with the MEP's decision that outdated coal-fired powerplants would be allowed to pollute for another decade.

“This is also grossly unfair on the member states who took early action to meet the requirements," he added.

The Council of Ministers was expected to rubber stamp the compromise text later this month.

($1 = €0.79)

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By: Franco Capaldo
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