A consortium of environmental campaign groups have publically urged Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom to back new industrial air pollution rules currently being considered within the EU.
The activist legal charity ClientEarth, alongside Coal Action Network (CAN), Greenpeace, European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Sandbag and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have written to Mrs Leadsom calling for the UK to vote â€˜yesâ€™ to new rules to limit emissions from industrial combustion plants.
In the letter to the Secretary of State the groups said it was â€˜essentialâ€™ that the UK government voted in favour of the proposed pollution rules when the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) Article 75 Committee meets on 28 April to vote on the adoption of the revised Best Available Techniques reference (BREF) document for large combustion plants (LCPs).
The LCP BREFÂ setsÂ out standardsÂ for LCPs fuelled by coal, gas, biomass and diesel, with current proposals likely to set higher standards to reduce emissions from these sources.
The UKâ€™s failure to back the BREF could determine whether the measures are adopted, the groups said.
In the letter the groups said: â€œA vote in favour of the LCP BREF would enhance the UKâ€™s reputation and strengthen its commitment in relation to reducing emissions from coal power plants that have such devastating effects on human health and the environment. A negative vote would contribute to the many thousands of premature deaths across the UK and Europe attributable to the existing weak regulation of emissions from coal and other large combustion plants.â€
According to Client Earth only one plant in the UKâ€™s coal fleet is equipped to meet the proposed standards and the organisation claims that environmental policy experts are sceptical about the UKâ€™s intentions to support the regulations, despite governmentâ€™s declared intentions to phase out coal by 2025.
James Thornton, ClientEarth chief executive, said: â€œAfter years of negotiating, itâ€™s absolutely vital that Andrea Leadsom supports these new rules. It would be inexcusable not to: pollution does not respect borders and we need strong, modern industrial standards, based on tried and tested technology, to protect our health and the health of our European neighbours.
â€œAs the UK begins its exit from the EU, it has never been more important that we continue to uphold environmental standards that protect our health and our environment.â€