National Air Pollution Control Programme (UK)

Published yesterday (1st April 2019) the National Air Pollution Control Programme (NAPCP) sets out measures and analysis for how emission reduction commitments can be met across the UK. The document (which is a lengthy series of tables spanning 60+ pages) is here.

The NAPCP sets out how the UK can meet the legally binding 2020 and 2030 emission reduction commitments (ERCs). These commitments apply for 5 pollutants:

• nitrogen oxides

• ammonia

• non-methane volatile organic compounds

• particulate matter

• sulphur dioxide

This programme is required under The National Emission Ceilings Regulations 2018 (which give effect to EU law on this topic).

The programme identifies the UK air quality framework to be derived from a mixture of domestic, EU and international legislation and consists of three main strands:

(1) Legislation regulating total national emissions of air pollutants – the UK is bound by both EU law (the National Emission Ceilings Directive) and international law (the Gothenburg Protocol to the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution);

(2) Legislation regulating concentrations of pollutants in ambient air;

(3) Legislation regulating emissions from specific sources such as legislation implementing the Industrial Emissions Directive, Medium Combustion Plant Directive, and the Clean Air Act.

The programme mentions Directive 2008/50/EC of 21 May 2008, on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe which sets objectives for the following pollutants; sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxides, particulate matter (as PM10 and PM2.5), lead, benzene, carbon monoxide and ozone (and applies to the UK).

Plus, Directive 2004/107/EC of 15th December 2004, relating to arsenic, cadmium, mercury, nickel and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in ambient air, covers the four elements cadmium, arsenic, nickel and mercury, together with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) including benzo[a]pyrene.

The programme mentions the UK National Air Quality Strategy, published in 1997 under the Environment Act 1995 (the last time a UK-wide Environment Act was enacted). This Strategy established objectives for eight key air pollutants, based on the best available medical and scientific understanding of their effects on health, as well as taking into account relevant developments in Europe and the World Health Organisation. These Air Quality Objectives are at least as stringent as the limit values of the relevant EU Directives – in some cases, more so. The most recent review of the Strategy was carried out in 2007.

The programme details the steps taken since in the devolved administrations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The programme sets out, in separate Tables, the progress made, targets and future measures.

The programme merits detailed reading, and it is too lengthy to summarise in full in this Blog post.

The programme does not mention the Environment Bill.

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