• European Parliament postpones air pollution standards for trains and diggers

    Makers of heavy-duty construction equipment, diesel locomotives and other non-road mobile machinery should be granted an extra three years to comply with pollution standards agreed in 2004, according to the European Parliament’s environment committee.  Sustainable transport campaign group Transport & Environment says the move undermines the credibility of European air quality laws.

    [mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]In a vote this morning, a so-called ‘extended flexibility mechanism’, in fact a postponement of air pollution standards proposed by the European Commission in July 2010, was given the green light. 

    Antoine Kedzierski, air pollution campaigner at Transport & Environment said:  “This proposal seriously undermines the credibility of European regulation of harmful pollutants such as particulate matter (PM) and Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), and creates a dangerous precedent.  It also penalises manufacturers that were first to market with cleaner vehicles, and creates regulatory uncertainty for the entire industry.”

    Air pollution standards for construction diggers, diesel trains and other non-road equipment has fallen way behind the EURO standards for cars, vans and lorries and the relatively small sector is now responsible for 16% of NOx pollution and 7% of PM in Europe (1).

    In January 2011, the Commission promised to ‘take measures which will help Member States comply with established EU air quality standards (including) reducing emissions from vehicles and machinery’.  (2). 

    Kedzierski commented: “It’s ironic that, after renewing its commitment to improving air quality back in January, just two months later, the EU is voting
    on measures that make air quality worse.”

    In a positive development, the Environment Committee formally called on the Commission to come forward with new air quality standards for the non-road sector, in order to bring it into line with EURO VI standards for lorries.  The next generation standards should have been proposed in 2007, but have been delayed several times already.

    Kedzierski added: “The Commission should come forward with a proposal for next generation standards within twelve months, and ensure that the sector is brought into line with road vehicles.”

    (1) Source: European Commission

    (2) See statement by Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik 18/01/2011,