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EU limits on non-road machinery emissions gain support

Draft EU rules are aimed at reducing air pollution from likes of lawn mowers, bulldozers, tractors and inland waterway vessels

Draft EU rules aimed at reducing air pollution from off-road engines such as lawn mowers, bulldozers, tractors and inland waterway vessels have been backed by members of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee.

The proposed rules cover the likes fo tractors, lawnmowers and handheld machinery

The proposed rules cover off road engines in, for example, tractors, lawnmowers and handheld machinery

The proposed legislation to limit non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) emissions covers internal combustion engines used in machines ranging from small handheld equipment – such as lawn mowers and chain saws – through to larger agricultural, farming and construction machinery.

Other examples of machinery covered by the NRMM rules include harvesters, cultivators, bulldozers, excavators, railcars, locomotives and inland waterway vessels.

Such machinery accounts for around 15% of all nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and 5% of all particulate emissions in the EU. As such the proposed legislation covers NOx, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and particulates.

For particulate matter, the rules introduce limits in most engine categories on particulate numbers complementing the limit of particle mass. This means that ultrafine particles will also be limited.

After amending the proposals to minimise the administrative burden on small firms, MEPs voted in favour of the draft rules by 64 votes to three against with no abstentions.

Due to the often long lifetimes of NRMM, they also proposed provisions to encourage owners of affected machinery to retrofit their equipment with cleaner engines and particulate filters, particularly in densely-populated urban areas.

However, MEPs also voted for a temporary exemption from the proposed rules for mobile cranes, engines for inland waterway vessels, heavy machines and all machines with a longer life time manufactured by small businesses.

And, the Committee failed to agree to new emissions standards aligned with the USA norms combined with a particulate number (PN) for inland waterway vessels.

Speaking after the vote on Tuesday (September 15), Italian Christian Democrat MEP Elisabetta Gardini – who is steering the legislation through the Parliament – said: “Today’s vote represents a crucial step in setting rules that, by improving air quality, enhance EU citizens’ lives.

“We have managed to show that environment protection, consumers’ health and the competitiveness of our industries are not irreconcilable objectives, as many would like to believe, but, on the contrary, they are two sides of the same coin. I hope that the upcoming negotiations with the Council will confirm and improve the results achieved today.”

The vote follows London’s low emission zone for NRMM, which came into force at the beginning of the month (September 1).

Trains

The vote outcome was also welcomed by Labour MEP for London, Seb Dance, although he criticised MEPs for blocking his amendments to tighten emissions limits on trains.

Mr Dance said: “People often associate air pollution with cars, buses and more conventional traffic, but engines used in construction sites and along our rivers and canals contribute significantly to the problem.

“Up to 10,000 people die in London every year from poor air quality. I’m delighted the European Parliament is taking concrete action to solve the problem and protect people.

“Thanks to diesel fumes, Paddington Station is more polluted than the Marylebone Road. I’m at a loss as to why Tory MEPs undermined my attempt to provide a sensible and cost effective way to clean up the dirtiest parts of Britain’s train fleet.”

Discussions will now take place with the European Council over the proposals. When a first-reading agreement is made, the proposals will be put to a final vote in the Parliament.

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