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Commission rejects bulk of air quality derogations

The European Commission has rejected most requests from member states to extend a deadline for meeting EU air quality standards on fine particles.

Nine member states requested time extensions for meeting the EU air quality standards for particulate matter (PM10) for a total of 94 zones, however on July 3rd, the Commission announced they would reject 75 out of the 94 requests.

The 75 rejected requests covered zones in Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Spain, France and Slovakia. The Commission believed that the conditions have not been met because insufficient data had been provided or because the measures outlined in the air quality plans submitted to the Commission did not demonstrate that the standards would be met at the expiry of the exemption period.

"Compliance with the standards must be our priority," said EU environment commission Stavros Dimas. Where extensions have been rejected, member states must either re-apply citing new evidence, or comply with the limits in the shortest possible time to ward off infringement proceedings.

The commission approved exemption requests for 19 pollution zones in Austria, Germany and Hungary, after finding that they satisfied the conditions set in the Clean Air for Europe (Café) air quality directive. They will now have until June 2011 to meet the PM10 concentration limits, which should have been achieved in 2005.

Member States may re-notify for zones where the Commission has raised objections if they provide new information to demonstrate fulfillment of the conditions. Decisions on the remaining PM10 time extension notifications are expected later in the year.

Last updated on 10 June 2011

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