Vehicle Emission Fixed Penalties (England)

A number of London Borough Councils are (in 2015) seeking authorisation to enforce the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (England) Regulations 2002 in order to reduce polluting emissions from stationary vehicles.

Stated reasons for seeking leave to issue fixed penalties are:
(1) vehicle idling while stationary causes unnecessary use of fuel,
(2) vehcile idling increases emissions and
(3) vehicle idling can also create a noisy environment.

It is an offence under Regulation 98 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 to leave a vehicle engine idling unnecessarily whilst stationary and powers are available to authorised local authority officers to issue fixed penalty notices of £20 to drivers who allow their vehicle engines to run unnecessarily while the vehicle is stationary.

Regulation 6(3) of The Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (England) Regulations 2002 allows a local authority to authorise any officer of the authority, or any other person, in any area of that authority, to issue a fixed penalty notice in respect of a stationary idling offence committed in its area. Regulation 6(3) also allows authorised persons to stop the commission of stationary idling offences by requiring vehicle engines to be switched off. Traffic marshals, being employed by an outside contractor are not officers of the council and require authorisation to be able to issue fixed penalty notices.

London Borough Council decisions allow that authority to be granted by council officers.

In Westminster, the Westminster Air Quality Action Plan, adopted in 2013, made a commitment to review the options and resource and emissions implications of utilising ‘no idling’ legislation to help improve local air quality. Authorisation to issue FPNs is sought under this Action Plan.

In Lambeth, Council officers will be sent out to explain to drivers the importance of turning engines off and the impact idling has on the environment and public health. If a driver continues to idle for 2 minutes or more, a £20 Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) will be issued.

NB: this is not a full list of London Boroughs seeking powers to issue FPNs.

EU Birds and Habitats Directives (EU)

As part of its Smart Regulation policy, the European Commission initiated a Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT). This is a continuous process, affecting the whole policy cycle – from the design of a piece of legislation to implementation, enforcement, evaluation and, where justified, revision.

Under the first stages of this programme, the Commission reviewed the entire stock of EU legislation and decided on follow-up actions, one of which is a ‘Fitness Check’ involving a comprehensive policy evaluation aimed at assessing whether the regulatory framework for a particular policy sector is ‘fit for purpose’. Fitness Checks are described to provide an evidence-based critical analysis of whether EU actions are proportionate to their objectives and delivering as expected. They are stated to cover environmental, economic and social aspects, and concern all EU policy areas.

In the environment policy field, the Commission already completed Fitness Checks of EU freshwater and waste related legislation, and has now begun a Fitness Check of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives.

The Fitness Check Mandate for Nature legislation is here.

Phase 1 (January-April 2015) was evidence-gathering in which all Member States and selected key stakeholder groups were consulted.

At national level, one representative from each of the following stakeholder groups were consulted in each of the 28 EU Member States:
1) Competent authority for nature
2) Other public sector body
3) Private sector
4) Non-governmental organisation involved in nature conservation.

Between April and the end of June 2015, meetings are held in ten Member States in order to gather and examine evidence in more detail, in particular evidence related to costs and excessive or unnecessary administrative burden linked to the Directives and the reasons behind them, as well as implementation challenges and successes. The ten Member States were the Netherlands (16-17 April), Germany (20-21 April), Poland (23-24 April), Spain (5-6 May), Malta (12-13 May), France (19-20 May), and the United Kingdom (1-2 June) Sweden (8-9 June), Slovakia (23-24 June), and Estonia (29-30 June, tbc).

Phase 2 (30 April- 24 July 2015): the Commission launched a 12-week public Internet consultation, open to all and available in 23 official languages of the EU. The questionnaire is in two parts with an initial set of general questions followed by a more detailed set of questions that explore different aspects of the Fitness check. Respondents have the option of only responding to the general questions or, if they wish, addressing the more detailed ones too. The results of the public consultation will be published in the autumn.

The List of documents compiled to assist the process is found here.

EU Large Combustion Plant Directive and Power Plants (UK)

The European Large Combustion Plant (LCP) Directive aims to reduce emissions of acidifying pollutants, particles, and ozone precursors from large combustion plants (power plants). The Directive entered into force on 27 November 2001, replacing the old Directive on large combustion plants (Directive 88/609/EEC as amended by Directive 94/66/EC).

The consolidated Directive 2001/80/EC is found here.

Member States had until 1 January 2008 to reduce emissions of a number of pollutants from power plants. Environmental Permits in England and Wales (PPC Permits in Scotland and Northern Ireland) extended the more relaxed (non-LCP Directive) emission limits, but these are running out. As a result, a number of UK power plants are closed or are due to close, rather than be upgraded to meet the tighter LCP limits. 

A further development is the decision (published 26 March 2015) of the European Commission to refer the United Kingdom to Court due to the absence of a reduction in emissions by the Aberthaw coal-fired power station in Wales. The Aberthaw power plant does not meet the requirement of the Directive, as it currently operates under a permit which sets a NOx emission limit of 1200 mg/Nm3, as opposed to the legally applicable 500 mg/Nm3 limit set in the Directive. The Commission first raised its concerns in a letter of formal notice in June 2013, followed by a reasoned opinion in October 2014.

These matters reduce the energy supply from certain power plant.