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Pollutants from large combustion plants

The European Union (EU) sets limits for emissions of pollutants from large combustion plants.

ACT

Directive 2001/80/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2001 on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from large combustion plants [See amending acts].

SUMMARY

This Directive applies to combustion plants (technical apparatus in which fuels are oxidised in order to use the heat thus generated) with a rated thermal input equal to or greater than 50 MW, irrespective of the type of fuel used (solid, liquid or gaseous).

Its purpose is to limit the amount of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust emitted from large combustion plants each year.

It encourages the combined production of heat and electricity (cogeneration).

Combustion plants authorised between 1 July 1983 and 27 November 2002 and brought into operation no later than 27 November 2003 must comply with the emission limit values laid down in Part A of Annexes III to VII for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust.

Plants authorised after 27 November 2002 must comply with the emission limit values laid down in Part B of Annexes III to VII for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust.

The Directive also requires significant cuts in emissions at “existing plants”, i.e. plants authorised before 1 July 1987. These cuts are to be achieved by 1 January 2008:

  • by achieving compliance, plant by plant, with the emission limits applicable to plants authorised between 1 July 1983 and 27 November 2002 (Part A of Annexes III to VII), or
  • through a national emission reduction plan applicable to the total emissions of the plants it covers.

Member States must send the Commission their national emission reduction plan for existing plants by no later than 27 November 2003. These plans must contain objectives, measures and timetables for attaining them, and a monitoring mechanism. The Commission must publish guidelines to help the Member States draw up their national plans.

The Directive allows existing plants to be exempted from compliance with the emission limits and from inclusion in the national emission reduction plan on condition that the operator undertakes not to operate the plant for more than 20 000 hours between 1 January 2008 and 31 December 2015.

In addition, the Directive authorises derogations from compliance with the emission limit values for plants which burn specific types of fuel.

Member States must ensure that waste gases from combustion plants are discharged via stacks high enough to safeguard human health and the environment.

The methods for measuring emissions and the frequency of monitoring are set out in Annex VIII to the Directive. The same Annex contains the rules on establishing and keeping emission inventories for large combustion plants.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force – Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 2001/80/EC27.11.200127.11.2002OJ L 309 of 27.11.2001

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Acts concerning the accession of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia1.5.2004-OJ L 236 of 23.9.2003
Directive 2006/105/EC1.1.20071.1.2007OJ L 363 of 20.12.2006

RELATED ACTS

Proposal of 21 December 2007 for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) (Recast) [COM(2007) 844 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Council Decision 2003/507/EC of 13 June 2003 on the accession of the European Community to the Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-Level Ozone [Official Journal L 179 of 17.7.2003].
This Protocol seeks to cut emissions of sulphur, NOx, NH3 and VOC caused by human activity and capable of damaging human health and the environment through processes of acidification, eutrophication and tropospheric ozone formation resulting from long-range transboundary transport.

Commission Recommendation 2003/47/EC of 15 January 2003 on the guidelines to assist a Member State in the preparation of a national emission reduction plan further to the provisions of Directive 2001/80/EC on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from large combustion plants [Official Journal L 16 of 22.1.2003].

Last updated: 27.05.2008
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