MEPs tighten LCP and incineration drafts

EU Parliament follows environment committee, plumps for tougher air quality rules

The European Parliament today voted to strengthen two draft directives which aim to reduce air pollution from large power plants and waste incinerators. Meeting in Strasbourg, it largely endorsed amendments put forward by its environment committee aiming for stricter controls than those proposed by the European Commission.

The MEPs' most radical amendment is to expand the scope of the proposed large combustion plants (LCP) directive to include existing installations. Originally the proposal - to limit sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and dust emissions - would only have affected plants licensed after 2000. The change requires existing plants to respect the same emissions values as new ones by 2005 (ENDS Daily 3 February).

This amendment was hotly contested by a number of Socialist MEPs, particularly those from Germany and the UK, who fear that the measures would be too tough for their coal-fired power stations. The issue sparked a war of words involving the rapporteur, Dutch Christian Democrat Ria Oomen-Ruijten, who said that existing plants could be running up until 2040 and needed tougher regulations to combat their contribution to acidification. Ms Oomen-Ruijten said the UK should leave the "stone age" and improve its plants for health reasons. UK Socialist David Bowe said he thought her report was a "lame duck" and voted against it. He told ENDS Daily he hoped a more "common sense" attitude would prevail in the second reading and that the amendments could be defeated.

On the incineration dossier, parliament agreed with the rapporteur, Independent Dutch MEP Hans Blokland, that there should be a single directive dealing with both hazardous and non-hazardous waste. MEPs voted to amend a Commission proposal on mostly non-hazardous waste - that would cut emissions of dioxins, acid gases and heavy metals - with amendments to extend its scope to hazardous waste incineration as well. This effectively merges the proposal with an earlier one on hazardous waste incineration (ENDS Daily 30 March).

Among the amendments inserted since the environment committee voted on the dossier is a request for the Commission to propose a new directive on waste management. It asked for this to include details on sorting waste before its disposal, to allow for a greater proportion to be reused or recycled rather than burned.

Follow Up:
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