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  • Non-road machinery still falling behind on air quality standards

    The European Parliament’s environment committee has told the Commission it is offering too many concessions on air quality to diesel-powered machinery such as locomotives, tractors and inland vessels.

    The Commission is trying to bring what it calls non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) into line with the rest of EU air quality requirements. The sector is relatively small, but concessions to its need to meet EU air quality requirements mean it is now responsible for 16% of nitrogen oxides and 7% of particulate matter in Europe.

    In January, 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.’ Yet the first piece of air quality legislation on this dossier that it put to MEPs proposed to increase the so-called flexibility mechanism, which allows machine manufacturers to market equipment with engines that meet the previous emissions stage.

    Under current rules, 20% of average annual NRMM sales do not have to comply with the latest air quality standards. The Commission’s text proposed to raise this to 50% because of the difficult economic climate. After several rounds of debates, the European Parliament’s environment committee agreed to an increase to 30%, but it also officially asked the Commission to prepare a more thorough revision of rules relating to NRMM.

    T&E air pollution campaigner Antoine Kedzierski said: ‘The Commission’s proposal undermines the credibility of European air pollution legislation on NOx and PM. It also penalises NRMM makers who were the first to market with cleaner vehicles. With this vote, the environment committee has clearly said it wants to regulate air pollution from the NRMM sector, so the ball is now in the Commission’s court. It must now publish a proposal for the next generation of standards for the non-road sector within 12 months, to establish parity with road vehicles.’

    The NRMM dossier still has to be discussed by ministers.