Domestic Burning (UK)

The UK government is consulting now on new controls to be brought in on wood and coal burning in domestic scale appliances and fireplaces.

The consultation asks for input on a range of questions, and states that new UK law will be brought in to restrict the sale of coal and wet wood.

This consultation is here.

This follows in from new voluntary guidance issued to farmers and agricultural contractors re ammonia emissions. This guidance is here.

New National Planning Policy Framework (England)

The long anticipated revision to the National Planning Policy Framework applicable in England has today (24th July) been published, here.

This replaces the 2012 Framework. The planning practice guidance to support the framework is also published online (here).

The Press Release is here.

The viability guidance is also updated – here.

New Environment Bill (UK)

Today 18th July (in fact just now), the UK Prime Minister announced the Government will bring forward the first Environment Bill since 1995. This is a highly significant development. At the Liaison Committee (of select committee chairs) underway at the moment, Mrs May stated this would encompass more ambitious objectives for air quality and also the opportunities that leaving the EU might bring.

I will issue a new Blog post when further detail is published. And obviously, in due course, Email Alert(s) will be issued to subscribers to the Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Law Checklists.

National Emission Ceilings Directive (EU)

In 2011-2013 the Commission conducted a review of the EU air policy which resulted in the adoption of the Clean Air Policy Package. As part of the package, the Commission proposed a Clean Air Programme for Europe, updating the 2005 Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution in order to set new objectives for EU air policy for 2020 and 2030.

The main legislative instrument to achieve the 2030 objectives of the Clean Air Programme is new Directive 2016/2284/EU on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants which entered into force on 31 December 2016. This Directive sets national reduction commitments for the five pollutants (sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, ammonia and fine particulate matter) responsible for acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone pollution which leads to significant negative impacts on human health and the environment.

The new Directive repeals and replaces Directive 2001/81/EC, the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NEC Directive) from the date of its transposition (30 June 2018) ensuring that the emission ceilings for 2010 set in that Directive shall apply until 2020. Directive 2016/2284 also transposes the reduction commitments for 2020 taken by the EU and its Member States under the revised Gothenburg Protocol and sets more ambitious reduction commitments for 2030 so as to cut the health impacts of air pollution by half compared with 2005.

Directive 2016/2284/EU is here. A Q&A about the Directive is here.

Some customers have already requested this Directive or have the Directive already. The national implementing regulations will be inserted into the ENV Air Register. Email Alerts will be sent out. If you need this Directive (and it’s local implementing regulations), please email me direct.

The role of the Member States in coordinating and implementing the Directive at national level is very important. Member States must transpose the Directive into national legislation by 30 June 2018 and produce a National Air Pollution Control Programme by 2019 setting out measures to ensure that emissions of the five main air pollutants are reduced by the percentages agreed by 2020 and 2030.  They must also coordinate with plans in fields such as transport, agriculture, energy and climate.

The Commission will work with Member States to ensure sound implementation, for example by setting up a new Clean Air Forum by autumn 2017. This will bring together stakeholders to exchange experience and good practice. The Commission will also facilitate access to EU funding instruments.

BREXIT : the UK has enacted implementing regulations (in force 1st July 2018) – here

The obligations rest with national implementing authorities, the new National Emission Ceilings Directive does not create direct obligations for facility managers or owners.

Transport (Scotland) Bill (Scotland)

A new Transport Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament on 8 June 2018.

The Bill is divided into 6 parts.

Part 1 of the Bill introduces the concept of low emission zones, which are set up under low emission zone schemes. A low emission zone scheme is a scheme under which individuals driving vehicles which fail to meet specified emission standards will be prohibited from driving those vehicles in contravention of the terms of the scheme within a designated geographical area. Where a person breaches this rule, a penalty charge will be payable unless the vehicle is exempt. Exemptions will be set out in regulations but are likely to include, for example, emergency service vehicles. The scheme itself may also make provision for the local authority operating the scheme to grant exemptions in certain circumstances.

Low emission zones are already in place in London. Further low emission zones may be introduced in England as a result of the Air Quality Strategy consultation. I have posted before on this (as part of DEFRA initiatives).

There has been talk of the Bill containing provisions that would enable local authorities to charge for workplace car parking. These provisions are not in the Bill.

A workplace car parking levy is in place in Nottingham (the English law permits this). Further information is here.

The Transport (Scotland) Bill is found here.

DEFRA announcements (England)

(1) DEFRA is consulting on a new air quality strategy – the consultation is here.

Note : House of Commons Briefing Paper (March 2018) entitled Brexit and Air Quality – here.

And European Commission refers (17 May 2018) the UK (and others) to the CJEU for infringement of EU air quality law – the press release is here.

(2) a new Tree health resilience strategy 2018 is launched – this is here.

(3) a National Parks review is announced – the press release (which links to the terms of reference) is here.

Unabated Coal Plant Closure (Britain)

Consultation on the closure of unabated coal generation in Britain by 2025 was recently held. It has been known that unabated coal generation would cease, because this had already been announced. The UK Government has now published its implementation plan today – here. This sets out the plan to realise the ceasing of unabated coal generation in Britain by 2025 (as of now, there are no coal plants in Scotland). NB: energy policy is a reserved matter in Scotland and a non-devolved matter in Wales. Energy policy is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland.

A new emissions intensity limit will be applied to generating units, of 450g CO2 per kWh of electricity generated, from 1st October 2025. This limit is broadly the emissions intensity of an unabated gas generator and is in line with the existing Emissions Performance Standard that applies to new build fossil fuel plant. The limit will be applied on a unit-by- unit basis, as proposed in the consultation. Units could meet this standard by investing to abate CO2 emissions significantly.

Note: the 450gCO2/kWh emissions intensity limit will be an instantaneous limit. This contrasts with the existing Emissions Performance Standard, which sets an annual limit on CO2 emissions from fossil fuel generators, based on their capacity and an assumed 85% annual load factor. Applying the existing Emissions Performance Standard on an annual basis could allow unabated coal units to run at relatively low load-factors and this will not be permitted.

As proposed in the consultation, to ensure that the emissions intensity limit is applied only to generating units that use coal and that there are no unintended consequences for other forms of generation, the limit will be applied to units burning any solid fossil fuel (i.e. coal, lignite, etc.), irrespective of site boundaries, and with a thermal capacity of over 300MWth. Compliance with the emissions intensity limit will be on a net CO2 basis, in that emissions from other fuels co-fired with solid fossil fuel will be included in the calculations for emission intensity. The emissions intensity limit will not apply to units that convert fully to other fuels.

To avoid the use of unsustainable biomass in units that co-fire – for the purposes of compliance with the emissions intensity limit, the net CO2 emissions from coal units co-firing with biomass will be calculated as the sum of the emissions from the coal element of the fuel diet, plus net life-cycle CO2 emissions attributable to the biomass element of the diet. It is recognised that this will have the incidental effect of increasing the relative proportion of biomass that would need to be combusted with coal in order to remain under the emissions intensity limit. This does not preclude any other biomass sustainability requirements that might be introduced in the future.

The documents published today identify that Coal is the most carbon intensive fossil fuel and that the decline in coal generation over the last few years has led to a significant reduction in the carbon intensity of the power sector. The UK Government assessment, as set out in their updated Impact Assessment, is that the closure of unabated coal plant will yield guaranteed reductions of 15MtCO2. In addition to this, reductions of harmful air pollution such as Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) will be guaranteed. This will contribute to the improvements in air quality that are being actively pursued at national level (in response to court action also) to reduce impacts on human health and the environment.

In 2017, the UK Government published an air quality plan to reduce roadside concentrations of Nitrogen Dioxide and in 2018, the UK Government will publish a Clean Air Strategy outlining its plans to reduce emissions of air pollutants from a wide range of sources. This will be a further Blog post.

Note: the UK Prime Minister will give a speech on the topic of the Environment next week. Depending on its content, this may be a further Blog post.

The documents published that the UK government is considering the appropriate legislative vehicle for introducing the emissions intensity limit from 1 October 2025 and other measures required to implement it. As the introduction of the emissions intensity limit will prevent unabated coal units entering into the Capacity Market auctions held in late 2021/early 2022 for the 2025/26 delivery year, and subsequent auctions for delivery years beyond that, the documents state the required legislation can be expected before these 2021/22 auctions. A final Impact Assessment will be published at that time. A further Blog post may be made at that time, or this post updated. Post updates do not forward to inboxes, so please make a note to return to check this Blog post.