European Parliament plenary round-up

Aircraft hushkitting, sulphur in fuels, waste landfilling, dangerous substances, on the agenda

The European Parliament is approaching the end of its week-long plenary session in Strasbourg, having held several important environmental policy debates. The institution voted on Tuesday on the Commission's proposal to harmonise fuel excise duties (ENDS Daily 10 February), and today on the planned revision of law on "deliberate release" of genetically modified organisms (see separate article in today's issue) and on the draft end-of-life vehicles directive, which we will cover in tomorrow's issue of ENDS Daily. A planned vote on the draft water framework directive may yet materialise, but could be delayed. Meanwhile, here are other environmental topics under discussion in the assembly:

Hush-kitted aircraft:

The parliament accepted the Council of Ministers' common position on this regulation which will ban noisy "Chapter 3" aircraft from the EU's airports, even if they have been fitted with noise-abatement equipment known as hushkits. The ban, which will come into effect from 1 April, has been imposed on the grounds that hushkits worsen emissions and fuel efficiency.

Sulphur in certain liquid fuels:

MEPs rejected the three amendments tabled by the environment committee which sought to tighten and speed up the implementation of this directive, aimed at reducing acidifying pollutant in the air (ENDS Daily 5 January). As no other amendments were passed, the parliament has accepted the common position provisionally agreed by EU environment ministers last June (ENDS Daily 18 June 1998).

Landfill of waste:

At its second reading of the draft EU waste landfilling directive over which it has only consultative powers, the parliament passed 19 amendments. A key one tries to restore the Commission's proposal that the volume of biodegradable waste landfilled should be reduced to 25% of 1995 levels by 2016 rather than 35% as agreed by the Council of Ministers. EU environment commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard said she would lend her support to the amendment when the dossier returned to the Council. She also supported a successful amendment to set a minimum 30-year period during which a landfill operator would still be responsible for managing a site after its closure, and an amendment reducing the derogation period for countries that rely heavily on landfill for waste disposal from four to two years. Ms Bjerregaard said the Commission would not support the idea of indicative distances between landfills and residential or recreational areas or water bodies.

Dangerous substances and miscellaneous:

The parliament approved the Council of Ministers' common position on a proposed directive restricting the marketing and use of certain substances and preparations without proposing amendments. It also gave second readings to proposed laws governing the European Environment Agency, on the monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions, and on shipments of waste from OECD to non-OECD countries.

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