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.

New Vehicle Emission Charges (London)

From Monday, the new T-Charge (Toxicity Charge) will apply in London’s congestion charge zone. This will apply to cars, vans, minibuses, buses, coaches and heavy good vehicles. The daily T-Charge will be additional to the Congestion Charge. The T-Charge will end when the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is in force (April 2019). The ULEZ will operate 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The ULEZ standards will be additional to the Congestion Charge and Low Emission Zone requirements at that time. 

Further Information is here

Congestion Charge and T-Charge hours of operation : Monday – Friday, 07:00 – 18:00 – excludes Bank Holidays and the period between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day inclusive.

Vehicles included

Cars, vans, minibuses, buses, coaches and HGVs, motorised caravans and horseboxes, breakdown and recovery vehicles, private ambulances, motor hearses, dual purpose vehicles and other specialist vehicle types that do not meet the minimum Euro emission standards are subject to the T-Charge. These standards are for cars – Euro 4 (see the further information link). 

Exemptions

Motorcycles, mopeds and scooters that are exempt from the Congestion Charge are also exempt from the T-Charge. 

Taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) are exempt from paying the Congestion Charge and the T-Charge when actively licensed with TfL. The exemption for PHVs only applies to private hire bookings.

Other exemptions include : 

(1) Vehicles with a historic tax class (40 years and older) and/or commercial vehicles manufactured before 1973. These vehicles continue to be subject to the Congestion Charge

(2) Two-wheeled motorbikes (and sidecars) and mopeds that are exempt from the Congestion Charge

(3) Emergency service vehicles, such as ambulances and fire engines, which have a taxation class of ‘ambulance’ or ‘fire engine’ on the date of travel

(4) NHS vehicles exempt from vehicle excise duty, and Ministry of Defence vehicles

(5) Roadside recovery vehicles and accredited breakdown vehicles registered for a 100% discount from the Congestion Charge

(6) Specialist off-road vehicles such as tractors and mobile cranes (that are exempt from Low Emission Zone)

Motorised tricycles and quadricycles that are subject to the Congestion Charge are also affected. Motorcycles are not subject to the T-Charge.
9+ seater vehicles that are currently registered for a discount or are exempt from paying the charge will need to meet the required emissions standards or pay the T-Charge.

Vehicle type approvals (EU)

From 1st September 2017, new car models will have to pass new and more reliable emissions tests in real driving conditions. 

The EU press release is here.

Please note the EU has initiated infringement proceedings (enforcement actions) against a number of member states including the UK, for their failure to fulfill their obligations under EU vehicle type approval legislation. 

The EU press release is here.

The European Commission is also working to ensure the application of EU air quality rules. In this regard, it has launched infringement procedures against 16 Member States in breach of ambient NO2 limit values.

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