Dirty Britain hit by EU clean up

British industry is bracing itself for expensive new demands from the departing European Commission to cut pollution emissions. The UK has been branded one of Europe’s dirtiest member states and the proposed cuts could cost UK industry more than £8bn over 10 years. The Commission wants EU ministers to approve individual national emission ceilings for […]

British industry is bracing itself for expensive new demands from the departing European Commission to cut pollution emissions.

The UK has been branded one of Europe’s dirtiest member states and the proposed cuts could cost UK industry more than £8bn over 10 years.

The Commission wants EU ministers to approve individual national emission ceilings for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ammonia by 2010.

This is the first time Brussels has made such state-by-state demands by proposing pollution ceilings for each member country.

The new directive especially punishes Germany, where polluting industries in the former east Germany are likely to land it with a clean-up bill of e21bn (£13bn).

Britain’s bill would be the second highest, and would come on top of the Government’s existing pollution control commitments.

VOCs are used in the solvents, paints and transport industries and the Commission wants the UK to reduce its emissions from the planned 2010 figure of 1.3 million tonnes a year to 960,000 tonnes. According to Commission figures, this could cost up to £600m a year.

Brussels also wants Britain to slash sulphur dioxide emissions to 497,000 tonnes per year – almost half the present target figure of 980,000 tonnes. This would call for a further £200m a year, borne largely by coal fired power stations. It would also jeopardise the Government’s determination to maintain coal-burning capacity and protect the UK’s coal industry.

The CBI this week added its criticism to the proposals. `It’s expensive and unjustified, given that we’re already committed to a massive abatement programme,’ an official told The Engineer.

Britain had planned to make a much smaller reduction for ammonia, along with negligible cuts in nitrogen oxides.

Other dirty states are Belgium, which faces a clean-up bill of e1.1bn, the Netherlands (e1bn) and France (e0.9bn).