MEPs agree medium combustion plant emissions rules

European Parliament votes in favour of agreement negotiated with the EU Council to limit emissions from medium combustion plants

Rules to limit nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide emissions from medium-sized combustion plants were backed by MEPs yesterday (October 7), leaving few hurdles now before the legislation can formally take effect.

The European Commission has set the UK a September deadline to provide data relating to breaches of PM10 levels

The European Council must now fomally approve the new limits before they can take effect

The legislation agreed yesterday by the European Parliament had already been informally negotiated with the Council, and so the new limits now only need formal approval by the EU Council of Ministers before they can become European law.

The proposed legislation was backed by 623 votes in favour to 70 against, with 12 abstentions, and would affect around 143,000 medium combustion plants in the EU with a thermal input rated between 1-50MW.

Such facilities include electricity generators or heating systems for domestic, residential or industrial use and are an important source of NO2, SO2 and dust emissions. However, emissions from these medium combustion plants are currently unregulated.

For new plants, the limits would take effect within three years. For existing ones, with a thermal output above 5MW, the maximum emission values for sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and dust, as proposed by the European Commission, would come into force from 2025.

The smallest plants, with a thermal input from 1 to 5 MW, most of which are operated by small or medium-sized enterprises, would have to comply with emission limit values from 2030.

Poland Christian Democrat MEP Andrzej Grzyb, who is steering the legislation through parliament, said: “This legislation fills a legislative gap, a loophole that we have between the ecodesign directive, which sets out standards for combustion plants of less than 1MW and the industrial emissions directive, for those over 50MW.

“The emission limits were set at an ambitious level, in order gradually to improve air quality, with proper safeguards for the operation of existing plants, in particular small plants, of less than 5MW, operated mostly by SMEs or utility companies, which are important for heating schools, hospitals or universities.”

Previous negotiations over the legislation in July also led to an agreement that national authorities should be required to assess whether to introduce stricter limits than set out in the legislation in areas which are not complying with EU air quality standards (see story).


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