Tag Archives: Pollution control

Pure air for Europe

Pure air for Europe

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Pure air for Europe

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Air pollution

Pure air for Europe

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe.

Summary

This Directive lays down measures aimed at the following:

  • defining and establishing objectives for ambient air quality * designed to reduce harmful effects on health and the environment;
  • assessing the ambient air quality in Member States on the basis of common methods and criteria;
  • collating information on ambient air quality in order to monitor long-term trends, in particular;
  • ensuring that such information on ambient air quality is made available to the public;
  • maintaining air quality where it is good and improving it in other cases;
  • promoting increased cooperation between the Member States in reducing air pollution.

Member States shall designate the competent authorities and bodies responsible for evaluating the quality of ambient air, approving measurement systems, ensuring the accuracy of measurements, analysing assessment methods and cooperating with other Member States and the Commission.

Air quality assessment

This Directive establishes a system for the assessment of ambient air quality in relation to sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter (PM10 and PM2,5), lead, benzene and carbon monoxide as well as ozone.

Member States shall establish areas or zones (urban, suburban, rural, rural background) throughout their territory, and assess and manage the air quality.

This Directive sets thresholds for assessment for each pollutant, criteria for the assessment method (in particular the siting of sampling points), reference methods for measurement, limit values * for the protection of human health and the environment, the target and the obligation of reducing exposure for the population to PM2,5, information thresholds * and alert thresholds *, critical levels * for the protection of vegetation and the list of information to be included in action plans for improvement in air quality.

Each Member State shall set up at least one measuring station and may, by agreement with adjoining Member States, set up one or several common measuring stations.

Air quality management and action plans

Where the levels of pollutants in ambient air are below the limit values specified in this Directive, Member States shall maintain the levels of those pollutants below the limit values and shall endeavour to preserve the best ambient air quality, compatible with sustainable development.

Where, in given zones or agglomerations, the levels of pollutants in ambient air exceed any limit value or target value *, plus any relevant margin of tolerance in each case, Member States shall ensure that air quality plans are established for those zones and agglomerations in order to achieve the predefined limit value or target value.

In the event of exceedances of those limit values for which the attainment deadline is already expired, the air quality plans shall set out appropriate measures, so that the exceedance period can be kept as short as possible and can include additional specific measures to protect sensitive population groups. Measures similar to those laid down in short-term action plans may be considered.

Where there is a risk that the levels of pollutants will exceed the alert thresholds, Member States shall draw up action plans indicating the measures to be taken in the short term in order to reduce the risk or its duration. These actions plans can in particular suspend activities which contribute to the risk of exceedance (motor-vehicle traffic, construction works, the use of industrial plants etc.). In addition, these action plans may include specific measures aimed at the protection of sensitive population groups, in particular children.

Where thresholds are exceeded due to transboundary transport of air pollutants, the Member States concerned shall cooperate and coordinate their work in order to remove the exceedance.

Public information

Member States shall ensure that up-to-date information on ambient concentrations of the pollutants covered by this Directive is routinely made available to the public and the bodies concerned. Where alert thresholds and information thresholds are exceeded, Member States shall publish:

  1. information on the exceedance or exceedances observed (place, type of threshold, time and duration of the exceedance, highest concentration observed);
  2. forecasts for the following hours and days;
  3. information on the type of population concerned, possible health effects and recommended behaviour;
  4. information on preventative measures and measures to reduce the emissions.

Member States shall also make available to the public annual reports for all pollutants covered by this Directive.

Penalties

Member States shall lay down the rules on penalties applicable to infringements of the national provisions adopted pursuant to this Directive and shall take all measures necessary to ensure that they are implemented. The penalties must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.

Context

This Directive repeals and replaces Directive 96/62/EC on ambient air quality assessment and management, Directive 1999/30/EC relating to limit values for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and lead in ambient air, Directive 2000/69/EC relating to limit values for benzene and carbon monoxide in ambient air, Directive 2002/3/EC relating to ozone in ambient air and Decision 97/101/EC establishing a reciprocal exchange of information and data on air pollution within the Member States.

Key Terms of the Act
  • Ambient air: outdoor air in the troposphere, excluding workplaces as defined by Directive 89/645/EEC.
  • Limit value: a level fixed on the basis of scientific knowledge, with the aim of avoiding, preventing or reducing harmful effects on human health and/or the environment as a whole, to be attained within a given period and not to be exceeded once attained.
  • Target value: a level fixed with the aim of avoiding, preventing or reducing harmful effects on human health and/or the environment as a whole, to be attained where possible over a given period.
  • Information threshold: a level beyond which there is a risk to human health from brief exposure for particularly sensitive sections of the population and for which immediate and appropriate information is necessary.
  • Alert threshold: a level beyond which there is a risk to human health from brief exposure for the population as a whole and at which immediate steps are to be taken by the Member States.
  • Critical level: a level fixed on the basis of scientific knowledge, above which direct adverse effects may occur on some receptors, such as trees, other plants or natural ecosystems but not on humans.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2008/50/EC [adoption COD/2005/0183]

11.6.2008

10.6.2010

OJ L 152 of 11.6.2008

National emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants

National emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about National emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Air pollution

National emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2001/81/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2001 on national emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants [See amending act(s)].

Summary

This Directive has been adopted in line with the 1997 communication concerning the strategy to combat acidification, which sought to establish, for the first time, national emission ceilings for certain pollutants.

Scope

This Directive covers emissions in the territory of the Member States and their exclusive economic zones from four pollutants which arise as a result of human activities:

  • emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2),
  • emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx),
  • emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC), and
  • emissions of ammonia (NH3).

These pollutants are responsible for the phenomena of acidification, eutrophication and tropospheric ozone formation (also called “bad ozone”, present at low altitude, as opposed to stratospheric ozone), irrespective of the sources of pollution.

National emission ceilings

This Directive provides for the introduction of national emission ceilings by the end of 2010 at the latest. These ceilings are laid down in Annex I to the Directive.

Interim environmental objectives

The purpose of the emission ceilings is broadly to meet the following interim environmental objectives:

  • the areas with critical loads of acid depositions will be reduced by at least 50% compared with 1990;
  • ground-level ozone loads above the critical level for human health will be reduced by two-thirds compared with the 1990 situation. An absolute limit is also set. The guide value set by the World Health Organisation may not be exceeded on more than 20 days a year;
  • ground-level ozone loads above the critical level for crops and semi-natural vegetation will be reduced by one-third compared with 1990. An absolute limit is also set.

National programmes

Member States are required to draw up programmes, by 1 October 2002, for the progressive reduction of their annual national emissions. The programmes must be updated and revised as necessary in 2006. They must be made available to the public and to appropriate organisations and submitted to the Commission.

Emission inventories

Moreover, Member States must prepare and annually update national emission inventories and emission projections for SO2, NOx, VOC and NH3. These inventories and projections must be reported to the Commission and the European Environment Agency each year by 31 December at the latest.

Reports

The Commission must report (in 2004, 2008 and 2012) to the European Parliament and the Council on progress on the implementation of the ceilings and towards attaining the interim environmental objectives and the long-term objectives set by the Directive. These reports must contain an economic assessment of the implementation of the national emission ceilings, including cost-effectiveness, costs and benefits, impact on competitiveness and socio-economic impact in each Member State.

The Commission will report to the Council and the European Parliament on the extent to which emissions from international maritime traffic and aircraft contribute to acidification, eutrophication and the formation of ground-level ozone within the Community. It will also specify the action which could be taken to reduce emissions from these sectors.

Cooperation with third countries

Member States and the Commission shall cooperate with third countries and the international organisations concerned with the aim of exchanging information and making progress in research aiming to reduce emissions of SO2, NOx, VOC and NH3.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2001/81/EC

27.11.2001

27.11.2002

Official Journal 309 of 27.11.2001

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 219/2009

20.4.2009

OJ L 87 of 31.3.2009

Related Acts

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.

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.

Agricultural nitrates

Agricultural nitrates

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Agricultural nitrates

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Agriculture > Environment

Agricultural nitrates

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 91/676/EEC of 12 December 1991 concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources [See amending act(s)].

Summary

Directive 91/676/EEC (henceforth referred to as the Nitrates Directive aims to protect waters in Europe by preventing nitrates from agricultural sources from polluting groundwater and surface waters by encouraging the use of good agricultural practices.

The Nitrates Directive is an integral part of the Water Framework Directive and is one of the key instruments for protecting water against agricultural pressures.

The implementation of the Directive will be carried out in a number of stages. Member States shall:

  • identify surface water and groundwater affected by pollution or at risk of being so, based on procedures and criteria detailed in the Directive (specifically when the concentration of nitrates in groundwater or surface water reaches 50 mg/l or when the surface water is eutrophic or is at risk of being so);
  • designate vulnerable zones, which are all known areas of land in their territories which drain into surface waters and groundwater which are affected by pollution or at risk of being so. The Nitrates Directive provides a possibility for Member States to be exempted from the requirement to designate vulnerable zones if the action programmes are applied to the whole of their national territory;
  • establish a code of good agricultural practice to be implemented by farmers on a voluntary basis, which shall include the measures detailed in Annex II to the Directive;
  • set up compulsory action programmes to be implemented by all farmers who work in vulnerable zones. These programmes must contain the measures listed in the good agricultural practice codes, as well as the additional measures listed in Annex III to the Directive, which aim to limit the land application of mineral and organic fertilisers containing nitrogen, as well as land application of livestock manure.

The Directive authorises Member States to take additional measures or to reinforce their action programmes in order to achieve the objectives of the Directive.

Member States must monitor water quality, applying standardised reference methods to measure the nitrogen-compound content.

The Commission has provided Member States with recommendations on monitoring methods and on the information which must be included in their reports on the application of this Directive. These reports shall be submitted by Member States to the Commission every four years.

Context

Water pollution by nitrates has been made worse by the introduction of intensive farming methods, with increased use of chemical fertilisers and higher concentrations of animals in smaller areas.

Nitrate pollution is causing problems in all Member States. The sources of nitrate pollution are diffuse (multiple discharges which are difficult to locate).

The 1980s saw a progressive worsening of water quality owing to the growth of intensive livestock farming (chickens, pigs) in areas that were already saturated, and of intensive crop-growing involving the use of chemical weedkillers and overfertilisation.

The 1988 Frankfurt Ministerial Conference examined water protection legislation. The participants stressed that the legislation needed improving, and this resulted in the adoption of the Directive on Urban Waste Water and the Nitrates Directive.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 91/676/EEC

19.12.1991

20.12.1993

OJ L 375 of 31.12.1991

DEROGATIONS TO THE ACT

The Nitrates Directive provides the possibility for an exemption from the rule on the maximum quantity of 170 kg of nitrates per hectare and per year allowed for land application of livestock manure, on the condition that it can be established that the objectives of the Directive are still met and that the exemption is based on objectives criteria such as long growing seasons, crops with high nitrogen uptake, high net precipitation or soils with high denitrification capacity. The Commission shall decide whether to grant an exemption or not, based on advice provided by the Nitrates Committee who assists the Commission in the implementation of the Directive. The prerequisites for any exemption are the appropriate designation of nitrate vulnerable zones and action programmes which fully comply with the Directive. Furthermore, the exemption is only valid for the duration of the action programme.

List of exemptions granted:

Decision 2005/880/EC [Official Journal L 324 of 10.12.2005]
Extension of validity by:
Decision 2010/65/EU [Official Journal L 35 of 6.2.2010].
This exemption has been granted to the Netherlands until 31 December 2013.

Decision 2006/1013/EC [Official Journal L 382 of 28.12.2006]
Extension of validity by:
Decision 2009/753/EC [Official Journal L 268 of 13.10.2009].
This exemption has been granted to Germany until 31 December 2013.

Decision 2007/697/EC [Official Journal L 284 of 30.10.2007].

Extension of validity by:
Decision 2011/127/EU [Official Journal L 51 of 25.2.2011].
This exemption has been granted to Ireland. It is applicable until 31 December 2013.

Decision 2007/863/EC [Official Journal L 337 of 21.12.2007].

Extension of validity by:
Decision 2011/128/EU [Official Journal L 51 of 25.2.2011].


This exemption has been granted to the United Kingdom for Northern Ireland. It is applicable until 31 December 2014.

Decision 2008/64/EC [Official Journal L 16 of 19.1.2008].

Extension of validity by:
Decision 2011/489/EU [Official Journal L 200 of 3.8.2011].
This exemption has been granted to Belgium for Flanders. It is applicable until 31 December 2014.

Commission implementing Decision 2011/721/EU [Official Journal L 287 of 4.11.2011].

This exemption has been granted to Italy for the regions of Emilia Romagna, Lombardia, Piemonte and Veneto. It is applicable until 31 December 2015.

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003

20.11.2003

OJ L 284 of 31.10.2003

Regulation (EC) No 1137/2008

11.12.2008

OJ L 311 of 21.11.2008

The successive amendments and corrigenda to Directive 91/676/EEC have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated versionis for reference only.

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on implementation of Council Directive 91/676/EEC concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources based on Member State reports for the period 2004 – 2007 [COM(2010) 47 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This Report is based on the information provided by the 27 Member States. 66 % of the groundwater quality monitoring stations showed stable or decreasing nitrate concentrations. However, 15 % of stations showed nitrate concentrations above the quality threshold of 50 mg per litre. The highest concentration of nitrates lies between 5 and 15 metres below the surface.
The quality of action programmes further improved as compared with the last reporting period in the EU 15. All new Member States established action programmes. In order to attain full compliance with the requirements of the Nitrates Directive, improvements are required, particularly with regards to storage construction, balanced fertilisation and establishment of periods during which land application is banned. In order to improve the implementation of programmes, better information for farmers and the application of efficient control programmes are essential.