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.

Liz Truss continues as UK DEFRA Secretary

Welcoming the continuation of Rt Hon Liz Truss MP as Secretary of State for UK Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

DEFRA is a large UK government department responsible for policy and regulations on environmental, food and rural issues, covering:

* the natural environment, biodiversity, plants and animals 

* sustainable development and the green economy 

* food, farming and fisheries 

* animal health and welfare 

* environmental protection and pollution control 

* rural communities and issues 

DEFRA only works directly in England, by concordat works closely with the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and generally leads on negotiations in the EU and internationally.

DEFRA’s work and priorities are delivered by 35 separate agencies and public bodies, listed here.

  

Air Quality NOx: UK Supreme Court Decision

On 29th April, the UK Supreme Court handed down its judgement in the ClientEarth v DEFRA (UK Government) case. I posted about this case December last.

These proceedings arose out of the admitted and continuing failure by the UK since 2010 to secure compliance in certain zones with the limits for nitrogen dioxide levels set out by European law, under Directive 2008/50/EC. The Supreme Court in its judgement of 1st May 2013 had declared the UK to be in breach of article 13 (NOx limit values) and had referred certain questions concerning articles 13, 22 and 23 of the Directive to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The CJEU had answered those questions in a judgement dated 14 November 2014 (Case C-404/13). At the same time, the European Court had ruled the UK Government must have a plan to achieve the air quality limits ‘as soon as possible’. My post about this is also in the December archive.

In its judgement of 29th April 2015, the UK Supreme Court unanimously orders that the government must submit new air quality plans to the European Commission no later than 31 December 2015. 

Link to Supreme Court Decision press summary.

Link to Supreme Court Decision.

In 2011 the UK Government said a number of areas, including London, would be unable to comply by 2015 (the deadline in the EU Directive) and instead EU law allowed it to ‘comply as soon as possible’. Indeed, air quality plans would continue the breach at least until 2030. This approach is now struck down by the Supreme Court.

The country goes to the polls on Thursday May 7 to elect a new government.

Some reaction from existing politicians and campaigners is set out in the Air Quality News article here.