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Euro 6 standard will improve air quality

European Commission official says that new vehicle emission standards coming into force in 2014 will enable member states, including UK, to meet air quality targets, writes Michael Holder

The European Commission has said it believes that new vehicle emission standards coming into force in 2014 will enable local authorities in the UK to meet air quality targets.

During a discussion by the Commission’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety last week (November 29), concerns were raised about the number of UK towns and cities failing to meet air quality targets – specifically with regards to nitrogen dioxide from traffic emissions.

A European Commission official believes new regulations coming into force in 2014 will help reduce diesel emissions.

The discussion was sparked by a question from Labour MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, Linda McAvan. She said: “The commission has done an analysis of how member states are meeting air quality targets, and we know that a number of member states and cities within member states are struggling to meet air quality targets. So the question citizens are asking is: ‘why?’â€?

Responding to the question, the Commission’s head of unit for industrial emissions, air quality and noise, Thomas Verheye, told the Committee that in 2011 there were approximately 250 zones out of 650 across the whole of the EU exceeding the particulate matter daily limit value, and 190 zones out of 650 exceeding the annual limit of nitrogen dioxide.

He said: “Indeed, there are many member states in breach of limits. In air quality we work with air quality zones rather than national territories. Nitrogen dioxide problems are very much linked to traffic, that is what we are seeing. I would say it is not only to traffic, but very much to diesel engines in general.â€?

He added that once Euro 6 Standard regulations for vehicles came into force in 2014, local authorities should find it a lot easier to meet emissions targets.

The Euro 6 Standard, along with the Euro 5 Standard, is part of the 2007 EC regulation (715/2007) on traffic emissions. It will require emissions of nitrogen dioxide from light passenger and commercial vehicles with diesel engines to be substantially reduced.

Once these standards are both in place, Member States will be required to refuse the approval, registration, sale and introduction of vehicles that do not comply with stated emissions limits.

Vehicle filters

Mr Verheye added: “We need Euro 6 to come in to force as soon as possible. Euro 6 should, as we understand it, bring state of the art filters and after treatment technology to all vehicles. In principle, as we understand it, these filters will trap most if not all harmful polluters, including nanoparticles and pollutants in diesel exhaust fumes. That is what we are hearing.â€?

According to Mr Verheye, after Euro 6 comes into force, the next task will be to make sure vehicle manufacturers comply with the new regulations and that emissions filters are fitted on all new cars, which may be expensive.

The committee is due to report back next year with further proposals for enforcement of the Euro 6 Standard.

He said: “If all that materialises, we believe that urban authorities will find it much easier to comply with emissions limits and air quality targets.â€?

Euro 5 and 6 Standards

The Euro 5 Standard came into force on 1 September 2009 for the approval for production of new types of vehicles and 1 January 2011 for the registration, sale and entry into service of vehicles.

Meanwhile, from 1 September 2014 the Euro 6 Standard will come into force for the approval for production of new types of vehicles, and from 1 January 2015 this will extend to the registration, sale and entry into service of vehicles. However, the additional delay of one year is allowed for goods transport vehicles.

A summary of the Euro 5 and Euro 6 Standards is available from the European Parliament website, or by clicking here.

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