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Emissions from medium combustion plants: Council and Parliament agree on new rules to improve air quality

Council of the EU
  • 23/06/2015
  • 18:00
  • Press release
  • 498/15
  • Environment
23/06/2015
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Ester Arauzo-Azofra
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The presidency of the Council and the European Parliament reached a provisional agreement on a new directive to limit the emissions of certain pollutants from medium combustion plants. These new rules are part of the clean air legislative package, which aims at improving  air quality in the EU.

The agreement still needs to be confirmed by the Council once the full text of the directive is finalised at technical level. The new piece of legislation will then be submitted to the European Parliament for a vote at first reading and to the Council for final adoption.

The new directive sets emission limit values for certain pollutants, namely sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and dust. These limits will be applied for new and existing medium combustion plants.

Changes to the proposal

Compared to the initial proposal from the European Commission, the agreed text introduces differentiated regimes for existing medium combustion plants, based on their size. This aims at reducing costs for the smallest plants whilst maintaining a high level of environmental protection.

Extended compliance deadlines may be granted to some plants, in particular to: 

  • district heating systems
  • plants firing biomass as their main fuel
  • plants being part of small isolated systems (for instance, on islands)

The agreed text also includes rules  to monitor the emissions of carbon monoxide. The Commission will take the relevant results into account in a future review.

Moreover, the Commission is called to assess in a review the benefits of setting minimum energy efficiency standards in line with best available techniques.

Closing a gap

The new directive is intended to cover medium combustion plants, that is to say those with a rated thermal input between 1 and 50 MW. While smaller and bigger plants are already covered by respective EU directives, the emissions from medium combustion plants are not yet regulated at EU level. However, these plants are an important source of certain air pollutants.  The new rules aim at filling that gap to complete the regulatory framework for the combustion sector.