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.

ODS and F-Gases (UK Brexit)

I posted before about the ODS and F-Gases changes in force on exit day.

Reminder : exit day is 12th April 2019.

Please note earlier guidance that identified the 29th March 2019 is withdrawn.

The UK will regulate fluorinated greenhouse gases (F gas) and ozone-depleting substances (ODS) from 12 April 2019. The regulator is the Environment Agency.

The UK guidance is updated with the new exit day – here.

Note the UK F gas and ODS Regulations link (in this guidance) is to the draft regulations. Please continue to check the Brexit Law List (which include these regulations) in subscribers’ Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists for the current situation.

Per the updated guidance –

The UK will continue to:

• restrict ODS

• use the same schedule as the EU to phase down HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons, the most common type of F gas) by 79% by 2030 relative to a 2009 to 2012 baseline

That means UK F gas quotas will follow the same phase down steps as the EU:

• limited to 63% of the baseline in 2019 and 2020

• reducing to 45% of the baseline in 2021

Most of the rules for F gas and ODS will not change. However, the UK will have separate quota systems, and the IT systems UK businesses use to manage quotas and report on use will change.

Companies must still comply with EU regulations on products placed on the EU market after exit.

[the exit day may change again, please keep following this Blog]

Events today 13th March (UK Brexit, Chancellor’s Statement)

Today a number of key events occurred as follows :

(1) (time limited, no deal) UK customs tariffs were published – a Commons Research Paper gives further details – here. [NB : this Blog does not focus on customs tariffs]

(2) time limited (no deal) special arrangements for the international border on the island of Ireland were publishedhere.

* The UK government would not introduce any new checks or controls on goods at the land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, including no customs requirements for nearly all goods.

* The UK temporary import tariff announced today would therefore not apply to goods crossing from Ireland into Northern Ireland.

* The UK government would only apply a small number of measures strictly necessary to comply with international legal obligations, protect the biosecurity of the island of Ireland, or to avoid the highest risks to Northern Ireland businesses – but these measures would not require checks at the border.

(3) the UK Chancellor announced :

* Consultation on a new business energy efficiency scheme for SMEshere.

* A review of the Aggregates Levy (put in place in 2002) – here.

* A call for evidence on the strengthening of the UK’s offshore oil and gas decommissioning industryhere.

Offshore oil and gas decommissioning industry – A call for evidence, as announced at Budget 2018, seeking to identify what more should be done to strengthen Scotland and the rest of the UK’s position as a global hub for safe, environmentally-friendly decommissioning that meets the Oil and Gas Authority’s ambitious cost reduction targets.

* A Review on the Economics of Biodiversity – A new global review, led by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, to assess the economic value of biodiversity and to identify actions that will simultaneously enhance biodiversity and deliver economic prosperity. The review will report in 2020, ahead of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity in Beijing in October that year.

* Re Biodiversity and conservation in Overseas Territories – A call for evidence inviting creative ideas from stakeholders on how the government can safeguard the biodiversity found in the Overseas Territories.

* Red Diesel: Response to Call for Evidence – A summary of responses to the May 2018 call for evidence on red diesel and air quality.

* In the Environment Bill (so far we have only seen part of the Environment Bill) – mandate net gains for biodiversity on new developments in England to deliver an overall increase in biodiversity.

(4) the Government’s motion to rule out leaving the EU on 29th March 2019 without a Withdrawal Agreement and associated Political Declaration was amended to make it apply universally, and then agreed.

Tomorrow, a Government motion to seek consensus on a delay in the exit date to 30 June 2019 will be debated in Parliament. Note : any delay will require EU approval.

I will issue a new Blog post on the matter of the exit day, tomorrow.

Remember : in international and domestic law the exit day is 29th March 2019.

New Air Quality Strategy (England)

DEFRA has today published its new Air Quality Strategy, for England (most aspects of air quality management are devolved matters). This document is here.

Scotland already has its own Air Quality Strategy, information is here. Wales and Northern Ireland are developing theirs.

The England document states :

(1) New legislation will create a stronger and more coherent framework. (This will be contained in the Environment Bill, which is not yet published save for the governance aspects).

(2) New England-wide powers will control major sources of pollution (some aspects listed below).

(3) New local powers will enable action in areas with an air pollution problem, including powers to create Clean Air Zones for all air pollution sources, in the Environment Bill, not just smoke, as exists currently (under the existing Clean Air Act).

(4) A commitment to bring all national and local monitoring data into a single online portal. Currently an online portal, with trigger alerts, exists for the London area.

(5) A commitment to publish a new target for fine particulates PM2.5, and evidence (early in 2019) on the action needed to achieve the WHO target of 10 micrograms per metre cubed. Note, the EU limit of 25 micrograms per metre cubed is met, and the second stage target of 20 micrograms per metre cubed is on target (the document states) for 2020.

(6) A commitment to provide a personal messaging system (see above comment re the London alert system).

(7) A commitment to creating a new target for reducing deposited reactive nitrogen (a target is specified).

(8) New legislation will compel manufacturers to recall non-road mobile machinery for failures in emissions control technology (this legislation is not yet published).

(9) New legislation will ban the sale of the most polluting fuels.

(10) Changes will be made to existing smoke control legislation, via the Environment Bill, to improve enforcement.

(11) Medium combustion plant emission standards will be reviewed.

(12) A National Air Pollution Control Programme will be developed with the devolved governments (as required by the EU National Emissions Ceilings Directive) for publication in 2019.

The above is a selection only, there are further commitments in the document itself.

Montreal Protocol – Kigali Amendment (International Law)

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is a Protocol to the UNEP Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. The Montreal Protocol is in force, sufficient states have ratified. In the EU bloc, the Montreal Protocol is given effect by an existing EU Regulation on Ozone Depleting Substances. In addition, a separate EU Regulation regulates Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases (F-gases).

The Kigali Amendment is specifically focussed on the global phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) – powerful greenhouse gases. HFCs account for 85% of present F-gas supply. UNEP has a FAQ here.

HFCs, used mainly in refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump equipment, are thousands of times more harmful to the climate than CO2. In response to the rapid growth of HFC emissions, the 197 parties to the Montreal Protocol adopted the Kigali Amendment in 2016 to reduce gradually their global production and consumption.

The EU has been phasing down HFCs since 2015 (and has a separate EU Regulation on the matter). EU Member States are in the process of ratifying the Kigali Amendment individually.

All 197 Montreal Protocol parties agreed to take steps to gradually reduce the production and use of HFCs. The first reduction step to be taken by the EU and other developed countries is required in 2019, while most developing countries will start their phasedown in 2024.

The Kigali Amendment will enter into force on 1 January 2019.

Montreal Protocol parties continue to ratify the Amendment, which has so far been ratified by 60 parties. The parties, listed alphabetically, are: Austria, Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Benin, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, Comoros, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ecuador, Estonia, European Union, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guinea Bissau, Hungary, Ireland, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Netherlands, Niger, Niue, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Rwanda, Samoa, Senegal, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay, Vanuatu.

A useful assessment of the EU F-gas regulation dating March 2018 is here.

This highlights the further changes mandated by the Kigali Amendment to implement a HFC licensing system.

BREXIT : the UK has ratified the Kigali Amendment

US : the US has not yet ratified the Kigali Amendment

China : China has not yet ratified the Kigali Amendment

A useful assessment of the US and China current state is here. (Source – here)

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.