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Open door for increased pollution from industrial plants

The EU Commission has agreed to exempt six countries from stricter emission limits for power plants, a setback to improve air quality in Europe. Only the Transnational National Plans (TNPs) of Spain and the UK were rejected.

15 EU member states had applied for such a plan, through which a number of power stations in the country are exempt from the new limits until 2018, and six plans have been approved so far.

Slovak, Slovenian, Irish, Greek, Hungarian, and Lithuanian power plants have now been given the ok to pollute at higher levels despite the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) coming into force in January 2016. The EU directive requires stricter emission limit values for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust, however, it also foresees a number of exemptions, such as the Transitional National Plans (TNPs).

Only the TNPs of Spain and the United Kingdom have been rejected, but can be adapted and re-submitted within half a year. Seven further TNPs await the Commission decision. Some of the plans might still be subject to environmental impact assessments in the member states.

HEAL together with other civil society organisations have raised a number of concerns and objections to the proposed plans, for example that several of the power plants included in TNPs were located in zones that breach ambient air quality standards of the EU.

HEAL sees the decisions approving five TNPs as a setback in European efforts to improve air quality and as an unnecessary derogation granted to industrial polluters.


  • More information on the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) available here

Last updated on 7 February 2014

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