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UK could face EU legal action over road vehicle tests

The UK, Austria and Finland could face legal action from the European Commission for failing to implement a directive which includes stipulations for car emission filter tests

The UK, along with Austria and Finland, may face legal action from the European Commission over failing to implement EU requirements for motor vehicle tests into national law, it has emerged.

The EU Directive on roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles and their trailers (2010/48/EU) sets out requirements for tests that motor vehicles must undergo to be eligible for use in Europe. Included in these requirements are stipulations for exhaust filters which limit nitrogen dioxide and other pollutant emissions, known as Euro standards.

The UK could face legal action from the European Commission over its failure to implement a directive on motor vehicle roadworthiness tests

The UK could face legal action from the European Commission over its failure to implement a directive on motor vehicle roadworthiness tests

However, the commission may be forced to take legal action against the UK as the government has not implemented this Directive into UK law.

As a result, campaign group Clean Air in London (CAL) claims that the government is “failing to stop the commercial removal or tampering with emissions control equipment” to limit nitrogen dioxide from motor vehicles. He also claims the UK government “may be actively ‘covering-up’ a much bigger problem”.

According to a European Commission infringement statement obtained by CAL, all three member states failed to communicate the necessary information about implementing the Directive in national law by the initial deadline of January 31 2011.

All three have also not taken action following letters of formal notice from the commission since this date, and were given another two month deadline to respond which expired on March 24 2013.

According to the Commission’s infringement statement: “The Commission is therefore sending reasoned opinions (the second stage in EU infringement proceedings), giving two months to reply. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may refer them to the EU Court of Justice.”

The statement adds that, as a result of failing to implement the Directive in national law: “The adoption of these measures is important to take into account all technological developments of vehicle and trailer components to better allow verifying the vehicle’s safety during the tests.”

CAL complaint

CAL has lodged an official complaint with the European Commission over the UK’s failure to implement the Directive, and has called for a public statement from the government on the issue.

CAL director, Simon Birkett, said: “The government is failing to stop the commercial removal or tampering with emissions control equipment that is designed to protect the public and may be actively ‘covering-up’ a much bigger problem. CAL has lodged an official complaint with the European Commission over the UK’s failure to implement Directive 2010/48/EU which specifies roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles and their trailers.

He added: “CAL wants a public statement from ministers confirming that a motor vehicle and/or trailer is not roadworthy if the engine or exhaust emission control equipment fitted by the manufacturer is absent, modified or obviously defective.”

Commenting on CAL’s claims, a spokesperson for Defra said: “Air quality in London has improved significantly and we expect it to improve further thanks to actions government are taking to reduce transport emissions.”

In December 2012, the commission said that tougher Euro 6 standards for vehicle emissions, which come into force in 2014, “would improve air quality” (see airqualitynews.com story).

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