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EU urged for stricter emissions limits at energy plants

European Environment Bureau calls on EU to implement more “ambitiousâ€? Medium Combustion Plant Directive

The European Environment Bureau (EEB) has called on the EU for an “ambitiousâ€? Medium Combustion Plant Directive, which sets stricter emissions limits, sooner deadlines for compliance and improved air quality monitoring requirements.

Plans for the MCP Directive were put forward by the European Commission in December 2013 as part of its Clean Air Package of proposals in a bid to reduce emissions from combustion plants between 1 and 50MW in size, which are currently unregulated.

EEB is calling for stricter emissions limits to be met sooner than proposed in the European Commission's Medium Combustion Plant plans

EEB is calling for stricter emissions limits to be met sooner than proposed in the European Commission’s Medium Combustion Plant plans

However, the EEB – an NGO representing 140 environmental organisations, such as ClientEarth and HEAL (Health and Environment Alliance) – believes the Commission’s proposals are not strong enough and yesterday (February 23) published a position statement calling on the Commission for a more “ambitiousâ€? MCP Directive.

According to the EEB, MCPs are a “significant contributorâ€? to air pollution, and an ambitious Directive will “create a level playing field for the industry concerned, boost eco-innovation and, as a result, create jobs in Europeâ€?.

Its position statement calls on the EU Parliament and Council to set emissions limit values which are in line with Best Available Techniques (BATs), as is the case for larger facilities under the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED). It also states that all MCPs should have to comply, including those undertaking activities covered by the IED.

The emissions limit values (ELVs) currently proposed by the Commission for the likes of nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ammonia, sulphur dioxide and particulate matter are “extremely weak compared to levels which could be achieved by the use of BAT and also compared to some Member States’ existing national legislationâ€?, EEB argues.

It adds that emissions limits should also be added for “toxic pollutantsâ€? like mercury, formaldehyde and methane, which are not currently addressed in the Commission’s proposals.

Monitoring

Furthermore, EEB urges effective monitoring of emissions, which it says is key to the successful implementation of the Directive, adding that the Commission’s monitoring requirements “could and should be stiffenedâ€?.

Additionally, EEB is calling on the EU to bring forward the currently proposed deadline of 2030 for compliance with the Directive, arguing that emissions reductions should happen “much quickerâ€? in order to meet air quality standards and targets “in the shortest possible time-frameâ€?.

It states that new plants should have to comply as soon as the Directive comes into force, while existing, smaller installations could be given five years extra time to comply “given that abatement techniques are already available on the marketâ€?.

Elsewhere, the EEB position paper calls for a “balanced and proportionate permitting regimeâ€?, and for regulations to enforce greater transparency at MCPs to provide more information to the public on emissions.

The emissions limit values in the planned MCP Directive form part of the Commission’s Clean Air Package, is being considered this year as part of its 2015 work programme (see airqualitynews.com story).

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