Proposed Transitional National Plan allows certain large combustion plants extra four and a half years to comply with emissions limits
Views are being sought by the government on proposed legislation which allows certain large power plants extra time to invest in technology to comply with EU industrial emissions limits.
The legislation includes 116 participating plants representing around 50% of the UKs electricity generating capacity and includes facilities which power major industrial sites.
Participants include RWE nPowers power plants in Aberthaw, Wales, and Didcot, Oxfordshire; E.ON UKs plants in Liverpool and North London; and Tata Steel factories in Port Talbot and Scunthorpe.
The net benefit to the UK economy of the legislation has been estimated at just under 5.6 billion over the next four and a half years as a result of the expected reduction in air pollution emissions.
Defra yesterday (September 14) launched a six-week consultation on the Large Combustion Plants (Transitional National Plan) Regulations 2015, which will provide the legal basis for implementation of the UK plan (TNP) from January 1 2016 to June 30 2020.
The legislation means that power plants participating in the plan will be given additional four and a half years in which to make the necessary investments in emissions abatement technology to achieve compliance with EU industrial emissions limits for nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter.
These EU limits are set out in the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), which is designed to reduce air pollution emissions from a range of industrial sources, the although the legislation also allows some flexibilities for Member States.
One of these flexibilities is the TNP, which allows operators of large combustion plants until June 30 2020 to achieve compliance with the emission levels set by the IED. However, this plan is only open to large plants which were granted or applied for their first permits before November 27 2002 and began operating no later than November 27 2003.
The TNP sets out an emissions trading system with a total annual emissions limit for all 116 plants both together and individually.
These limits are then reduced year on year, with plants able to trade any emissions allowances with other participating plants in order to reduce costs of implementation while still reducing overall emissions from plants on a national basis.
According to the document, implementing the TNP will achieve a reduction in emissions of air pollutants and the associated environmental and human health benefits in a cost-beneficial manner without imposing an unreasonable burden on industry.
Overall responsibility for operating and maintaining the register of 116 participating plants as well as collating reports on their emissions lies with the regulators.
As such, the proposed TNP legislation establishes regulatory roles for the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Department of the Environment Northern Ireland.
The consultation closes on October 26 2015 with accompanying documents and an online survey available online.