Medium Combustion Plants and Generators (UK)

The Medium Combustion Plant (European) Directive (MCPD) is an instrument targeted at reducing air pollution by bringing in emission controls for combustion plants in the 1-50MWth range. 

The MCPD was supported by the UK as it will deliver a cost-effective improvement in air quality. The Directive requires all plants in scope to be registered or permitted and sets limits on the levels of pollutants that these plants can emit according to their type, size, age, fuel type and annual operating hours. It also requires operators to test emissions from their plants to demonstrate compliance with emission limits. The MCPD must be transposed into UK law by 19 December 2017. The controls will apply to new plants from December 2018. Existing plants must comply with requirements from 2024 or 2029, depending largely on size. Full implementation will be achieved in 2030. This legislation will be implemented in the UK

The European MCPD will be added to ENV Air in the Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Checklists.

Consultation has occurred in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The consultation response is published (England and Wales) here

England : the Environment Agency will be appointed as the regulator in England. For higher risk plants, where the impact on local air quality must be assessed to determine permit conditions, Local Authorities will be consulted. The Environment Agency will consult on fees and charges as part of its strategic review of charges. 

Wales : the Welsh government is considering the matter of regulatory responsibility in relation to plant in Wales.

Note

(1) not all less than 1MW plant will be permitted

(2) control will be via the Environmental Permitting regime (England and Wales), there will be no change to other legislation

NO2 Air Quality Plan (UK)

A statutory UK Plan for tackling roadside emissions of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is published today. The documents are here.

NO2 air quality standards are set out in the following laws (implementing EU air quality standards, which give effect to World Health Organisation – WHO – air quality guidelines – found in ENV Air in the Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Checklists) :

– The Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010

– The Air Quality Standards (Scotland) Regulations 2010

– The Air Quality Standards Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010

– The Air Quality Standards (Wales) Regulations 2010

The UK 2017 Air Quality Plan (NO2) has the following components:

(1) there is to be a national framework setting out the steps that local authorities need to take (no details in the Plan)

(2) there is to be financial support to enable local authorities to develop and implement their plans

• £255m Implemention Fund, for feasibility studies and local plan development and delivery – £40 million immediately

• Clean Air Fund, for local authority bids for additional money to support the implementation of measures to improve air quality. This could include interventions such as improvements to local bus fleets, support for concessionary travel and more sustainable modes of transport such as cycling, or infrastructure changes. These interventions could enable local authorities to avoid the imposition of restrictions on vehicles, such as charging zones. To ensure the Fund fits the specific needs of each local area there will be a competitive process through which local authorities bid for support. Further details will be announced later in the year.

• £100 million for retrofitting and new low emission buses. As announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement, the government will provide this funding for a national programme of support for low emission buses in England and Wales, including hundreds of new low emission buses and retrofitting of thousands of older buses.

(3) local plans (produced by local authorities, local authorities already have responsibility under the Local Air Quality Management system brought in by EU law) are to be developed and implemented at pace so that air quality limits are met (presently the UK breaches air quality limits on a routine basis in some locations). Initial local plans by end March 2018. Final local plans by end December 2018. These plans will be subject to DEFRA approval, if not approved, measures will be mandated.

(4) local authorities are to consider a wide range of innovative options, exploring new technologies and seeking to support the government’s industrial strategy so that they can deliver reduced emissions in a way that best meets the needs of their communities and local businesses. 

Their plans could include a wide range of measures such as: changing road layouts at congestion and air pollution pinch points; encouraging public and private uptake of ULEVs; using innovative retrofitting technologies and new fuels; and, encouraging the use of public transport. 

If these measures are not sufficient, local plans could include access restrictions on vehicles, such as charging zones or measures to prevent certain vehicles using particular roads at particular times. However, local authorities should bear in mind such access restrictions would only be necessary for a limited period and should be lifted once legal compliance is achieved and there is no risk of legal limits being breached again.

The 2017 Plan does not suggest that any or all of these obligations will be mandatory, unless the local plans prove insufficient.

(5) a new Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill will allow the government to require the installation of charge points for electric vehicles at motorway service areas and large fuel retailers, and to make it even easier to use electric vehicle chargepoints across the UK. This drive towards cleaner technology and zero emission transport will be reinforced by both the Clean Growth Plan and the Industrial Strategy, including investment in science and innovation through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

(6) checks by the pre-existing Market Surveillance Unit will be increased to ensure that new and existing vehicles on UK roads meet the standards that they were approved to. 

Also, please note the following re medium scale combustion plants :

Medium Combustion Plants (MCPs) are widely used to generate heat for large buildings (offices, hotels, hospitals, prisons) and industrial processes, as well as for power generation, and have been largely unregulated for emissions to air. In addition, there has been rapid growth in the use of generators with high NOx emissions in Great Britain which is expected to continue. 

Modelling indicates that such generators can lead to local breaches of the statutory hourly mean limit value for NO2. 

The UK and Welsh Governments consulted on new statutory measures to reduce emissions from MCPs and generators in 2016 with a view to introducing emission controls in England and Wales from the end of 2018, to improve air quality. The response to the consultation, published on 11 July 2017, sets out the controls which will be introduced into legislation by the end of 2017.

Scotland and Northern Ireland consulted in 2016 and 2017 respectively on measures to reduce emissions from MCPs within the same timescale as England and Wales, and sought views on controlling emissions from generators.

Also, new diesel and petrol cars and vans will be banned in the UK from 2040 in a bid to tackle air pollution, the government has announced. This is a separate pledge

National Emission Ceilings Directive (EU)

National emission ceilings are limits for total emissions of certain air pollutants that have to be respected by Member States. The existing Directive on national emission ceilings covers limits for 2010 onwards. These ceilings have helped reduce emissions of sulphur dioxide (the cause of acid rain), ammonia, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (pollution from solvents, road vehicles, household heating and power generation systems) in recent years. The existing Directive is implemented in respect of point sources of air pollution, via air pollution permits or environmental permits that address air in individual Member States (local legislation). 

However, the EU is still not reaching its long-term air quality objectives.

The European Commission’s proposed replacement Directive introduces stricter national emission ceilings. It also proposes new controls on methane and particulate, not covered by the existing Directive.

The current Directive (Directive 2001/81/EC) will apply to 2019. New national commitments for 6 pollutants were proposed to apply from 2020 and 2030. The 6 pollutants were sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ammonia, methane, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds.

On 30 June 2016, the Council and the European Parliament reached provisional agreement. This agreement (for the new NEC Directive) will set new national limits for 5 (not 6) pollutants. Methane is dropped. The national limits for 2020 to 2029 are the same as Member States are already comitted to in the revised UNECE Gothenburg Protocol. New stricter limits from 2030 are now agreed.

The European Parliament will vote in the Autumn, adoption is expected by the end of 2016. 

Information is found here.

Once enacted, the new NEC Directive will be loaded into subscriber websystems, those with PPC/Multimedia Registers. Please email or reply to this post if you want the new NEC Directive loaded into your websystem.

Ultra Low Emission Zone (London)

The London Mayor has announced the present agreed Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) for London will be extended to the North and South Circular Roads and come into force one year earlier, in 2019.

Here is access to the present agreed ULEZ and how it will operate. I will Blog again once the Mayor’s revised plans are agreed.

Air Quality Consultation (UK)

My recent posts (in the Air category) cover (a) the decision of the European Court to prosecute the UK as respects Nitrogen Dioxide in ambient air, and (b) the UK Supreme Court decision mandating the UK government to bring forward plans to rectify it’s non-compliance with the European NO2 air quality standard. 

The UK is compliant for nearly all air pollutants. However, it is a significant challenge to meet the NO2 limit values in some areas. The EU Ambient Air Quality Directive (AQD) sets limits on key air pollutants, for NO2, there are two limit values for the protection of human health:
(i) annual mean concentration levels of NO2 should not exceed 40μg/m3; and
(ii) hourly mean concentration levels of NO2 should not exceed 200μg/m3 more than 18 times a calendar year.

The UK is divided into 43 zones and agglomerations for air quality monitoring and reporting purposes. In 2013, 38 out of the 43 UK zones were assessed to be exceeding the maximum annual limit for NO2, together with one zone exceeding the hourly limit.

Road transport is the dominant source of pollution in areas where the UK is exceeding NO2 limit values, although the effects of urban and regional background non-transport sources are also relevant.

The UK government is consulting (Scotland is conducting its own consultation):

The consultation comprises:

(1) A consultation document that summarises the key elements from the draft plans (draft air quality plans for each agglomeration) and identifies the main areas where views are sought;

(2) A draft UK overview document that sets out the UK’s approach for meeting NO2 limit values in the shortest possible time;

(3) Draft plans to improve air quality in each of the 38 zones exceeding the annual mean limit value for NO2. The zone plans contain the information required by the Ambient Air Quality Directive, describe the compliance situation for each zone and include more detailed information on measures being taken at a local level.

The England, Wales and Northern Ireland consultation document is found here.

The Scotland consultation document is found here.

The draft UK overview document is found here.

The draft Air Quality Plans are found here.

Please note the draft Air Quality Plan for the Greater London Urban Area refers to the London Mayor’s new Ultra Low Emissions Zone. I will post about this separately.

Please note I will post about the diesel passenger vehicle emissions situation shortly.

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 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.