New rules set by the EU on air pollution from machinery

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and member state negotiators have agreed tighter air pollution standards for engines used in off-road machinery.

Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM), which include drilling rigs, chainsaws, diesel-powered trains and river boats, are a significant source of air pollution. They account for around 15% of EU nitrogen oxides and 5% of its particulates.

The new regulation will replace Directive97/68/ECand its amendments, alongside a patchwork of national laws. Directive 97/68/EC originally applied only to compression ignition engines but was extended to spark-ignition machinery such as lawn mowers in 2002.

The new law will introduce new emission limits which will depend on engines’ power range, application and fuel. They will be phased in for new engines over 2018-2020.

Reflecting current knowledge of the health impacts of ultrafine particulates, the regulation will limit the number of particulates that may be emitted, the 1997 law only regulates their mass. The negotiations have also added provisions on retrofitting emissions abatement systems. The commission will be required to report on technical and financial provisions for NRMM to help improve air quality in towns and cities by the end of 2018.

A review to establish whether further emissions reductions are needed will take place by 31st December 2020. The Commission will assess implementing real-world emissions testing for NRMM, as is being introduced for road vehicles, by 2025.

MEP Elisabetta Gardini said the deal struck with member states achieved the right balance between environmental protection and being reasonable enough to be applied by those companies that shall implement it in their daily business.

However, Campaign groups have criticised the fact that no particulate matter limit had been adopted for diesel locomotives and the fact exhaust gas treatment systems will not need to be fitted.

The provisional agreement now goes forward for final approval by ministers and by the European Parliament, after which it will be published in the EU’s Official Journal and become law.

Link to draft regulation.

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