Memorandum submitted by The Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) (AQ 26)

 

Thank for you for the opportunity to input into this inquiry.

 

1. Environmental Industries Commission (EIC)

 

EIC was launched in 1995 to give the UK's environmental technology and services industry a strong and effective voice with Government.

 

With over 280 Member companies, EIC is the largest trade association in Europe for the environmental technology and services (ETS) industry. It enjoys the support of leading politicians from all three major parties, as well as industrialists, trade union leaders, environmentalists and academics.

 

EIC's Transport Pollution Control Working Group (TWG) represents over 40 Member companies including world leaders in the supply of exhaust aftertreatment, suppliers of clean and low greenhouse gas fuels, suppliers of catalysts and catalysed components and consultants covering transport and the environment.

 

 

2. Introduction

 

The Government's National Air Quality Strategy concludes that poor air quality is estimated to reduce the life expectancy of every person in the UK by an average of 7-8 months-impacting particularly on children, the elderly and those in poor health. A recent report from the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants increased estimates of the mortality rate from long-term exposure to particulate pollution. It concluded that a 10-microgram-per-cubic-metre increase in fine particulate matter (PM2.5) increases overall mortality rates by 1-12%. According to recent estimates, poor air quality caused 5,000 premature deaths in 2005 in London alone.

 

Particulate matter (PM) in particular has major health implications-the National Air Quality Strategy states that "both short-term and long-term exposure to ambient levels of PM are consistently associated with respiratory and cardiovascular illness and mortality as well as other ill-health effects." However, the finest particles of particulate matter are known to be the most damaging to health.

 

The new Ambient Air Quality Directive sets new targets for PM2.5. This includes an average annual exposure reduction target and, to ensure a minimum degree of health protection everywhere, a limit value, which is to be preceded in a first stage by a target value. Whilst more work is required to understand the UK situation on PM2.5, the initial view is that the UK should meet the limit value of the Ambient Air Quality Directive but may struggle to meet exposure reduction targets.

 

EU air quality limits for particulate matter were breached in London in each of 2005, 2006 and 2007. Current projections show that these laws will still be breached in London in 2011 and beyond.

 

Road transport is one of the most significant contributors to poor air quality. For example, a recent European Environment Agency report[1] concluded that road transport is the most significant source of NOx (39.4 per cent of NOx emissions from all 27 Member States) and the second largest emitter of PM10 (15.9 per cent) and PM2.5.

 

Under the Ambient Air Quality Directive, deadlines for complying with PM10 standards can be postponed for three years (mid-2011) and for a maximum period of five years for nitrogen dioxide and benzene (2010-2015). To qualify for a postponement, emissions of the pollutant have to be within a "margin of tolerance." If emissions are above the "margin of tolerance" Member States face infraction proceedings from the Commission for failure to comply.

 

In addition to meeting the "margin of tolerance," Member States have to be able to demonstrate that "all appropriate measures have been taken at national, regional and local level to meet the required limit values."

 

EIC does not accept that this is the case in the UK for the following reasons:

Nationally the Government has failed to sufficiently support the introduction of Low Emission Zones across the UK. Our Members welcome the Local Air Quality Management Guidance but believe that it should be supported through the urgent introduction of a National Framework of Low Emission Zones - see section 3.

The Government has also failed to sufficiently incentivise retrofit of the most polluting vehicles. This is despite retrofitting diesel vehicles being highly cost-effective. For example, the US Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that retrofit generates US$13 of health benefits for every US$1 spent.

Local authorities have failed to take a lead by retrofitting their captive fleets to high standards - see Section 8.

In London - which has "presented the greatest challenge" - Phase III of the Low Emission Zone is currently under threat, with potentially major implications for the UK's ability to meet the PM10 limit values, and the 'Best Practice Guidance on the Control of Dust and Emissions From Construction and Demolition' has so-far been ignored, despite commitments to its full implementation - particularly on the Olympic site - see Section 5.

 

Despite this, and following consultation, Defra recently submitted a request to the Commission to postpone the deadline for meeting the PM10 targets under the Directive. The UK's application concerned 8 zones/agglomerations (out of 43 in the UK), most notably London. The application was rejected by the Commission on 11 December 2009.

 

A similar requirement to postpone the deadline for meeting the NO2 target is also expected - the UK currently has NO2 exceedences along 3,500km of road. From current measures, Defra expect about 850km of road to still exceed the NO2 limit value in 2015.

 

In rejecting the UK's application to postpone the deadline for meeting the PM10 targets, the European Commission concluded that there are important elements missing from the Mayor of London's draft Air Quality Strategy - see Section 5 - "such as a clear timetable for the implementation of the abatement measures envisaged, as well as an estimate of the improvement of air quality which can be expected by 2011."

 

The Commission also concluded that:

 

"The notification also includes references to a number of local air quality action plans relevant for the zone. However, several of those local plans have not been updated for the purpose of demonstrating how compliance will be achieved by 2011 and can, therefore, not be considered relevant for assessing the notification. In view of the significant uncertainty regarding the contents and objectives of the draft strategy and the absence of up-dated local air quality action plans, the Commission considers that an air quality plan demonstrating how compliance with the limit values will be achieved by the new deadline as required in Article 22(1) of Directive 2008/50/EC has not been provided for zone 1. The Commission therefore considers that the United Kingdom has not provided all relevant information necessary for the Commission to assess the notification."

 

Action to improve air quality is, therefore, an urgent priority. The area of interest that we shall address in this submission is the steps that need to be taken to ensure that air quality targets will be met in the future.

 

 

 

3. National Framework for Low Emission Zones

 

EIC believe that one of the most effective ways to meet the UK's air quality obligations is through targeted programmes focused on cleaning up the most polluting vehicles. These areas will continue to suffer from poor air quality unless measures are implemented at a local level.

 

The Low Emission Strategies Group convened by Sheffield City Council is clear evidence that local authorities are keen to adopt Low Emission Zones as a measure for improving air quality. However, little progress has been made in areas other than London.

 

EIC welcomed the recent Defra Local Air Quality Management Guidance as an important tool for helping local authorities improve the management of air quality in their areas, including providing guidance for the introduction of Low Emission Zones. However, the guidance provides insufficient Government support for local authorities to adopt these measures cost effectively. It also fails to facilitate consistency between any new Low Emission Zones.

 

EIC acknowledge that vehicle classification for any new Low Emission Zone is a decision for local authorities, however a situation whereby vehicle operators have to comply with different vehicle restrictions in different parts of the country is undesirable.

 

EIC believe that the Local Air Quality Management Guidance should be supported through the urgent introduction of a National Framework of Low Emission Zones. A similar scheme operates very successfully in Germany (EIC would be pleased to provide further information on this scheme if required).

 

This would leave local authorities with the decision on whether, when and where to have a Low Emission Zone - providing that they operate within the national framework.

 

 

3.1 How Would a National Framework for Low Emissions Zones Work?

 

A National Framework should establish a nationally recognised standard for emissions and vehicle identification - supported by a national certification scheme of retrofit technologies (see section 4).

 

3.1.1 Emission Standards

 

A National Framework would set a nationally recognised emission standard for light and heavy duty vehicles.

 

Using the heavy-duty vehicle classifications, the standards should be set as follows:

 

Class A - Euro V vehicles and better

Class B - Euro IV, or Euro II/Euro III plus approved particulate filter

Class C - Euro III, or Euro I/II plus approved particulate filter

Class D - Euro II and lower

 

The terminology 'approved particulate filter' refers to the databases held by EST for the RPC and LEC approvals which have formed the basis of the London LEZ categorisations for phases 1, 2 and 4.

 

Equivalent emission standards should cover light duty vehicles, as again defined for the London LEZ Phase 3.

 

 

3.1.2 Vehicle Identification

 

A window sticker could be used to indicate the emission standard of the vehicle - this would be valid nationally. Local authorities would then decide the minimum emissions standard that is allowed into the Low Emission Zone.

 

The Low Emission Zone could then be enforced manually by local authorities[2] - as in Germany - simply checking whether there is a sticker in the windscreen or not.

 

 

3.1.3 Facilitating Consistency

 

Without a National Framework, if local authorities adopted their own Low Emission Zone - even under the new Local Air Quality Management Guidance - vehicle operators could be forced to comply with different vehicle restrictions in different parts of the country.

 

Inconsistency between Low Emission Zones would increase the cost and complexity of compliance and place a significant burden on vehicle operators.

 

 

3.1.4 Creating New Jobs

 

EIC believe that a National Framework for Low Emission Zones would help create many new jobs in the UK's environment industry.

 

Approximately 3,500 people are currently employed in the UK by the retrofit market. Furthermore, an estimated 80 per cent of the UK's retrofit market is supplied by UK owned companies. The UK's share of this market could increase significantly through effective Government support for the introduction of Low Emission Zones across the UK - helping create many new jobs.

 

 

 

4. National Certification Scheme of Retrofit Technologies

 

A National Framework for Low Emissions Zones should be supported with the introduction of a National Certification Scheme of retrofit technologies.

 

In the development of the London Low Emission Zone, Transport for London worked alongside authorities such as VOSA and VCA to develop a list of approved retrofit particulate abatement technologies for compliance with the scheme across the full range of heavy-duty vehicles. A vehicle fitted with an approved technology is issued with a Reduced Pollution Certificate or Low Emissions Certificate to confirm compliance. EIC believe that this certification could become a nationally recognised standard, which local authorities could use as part of their own schemes under a National Framework.

 

EIC believe that it is feasible to extend a National Certification Scheme for retrofit of PM abatement technologies to also cover NOx - given appropriate Government support. This would greatly facilitate technologies that will also help address future concerns over failures to meet NO2 limit values.

 

In his draft Air Quality Strategy, the Mayor of London proposed that by 2015, subject to central Government support in establishing a suitable certification and testing regime, London introduce an emissions standard for NOx (Euro IV) into the London Low Emission Zone for HGVs, buses and coaches.

 

EIC fully support this proposal and urge the Committee to include amongst its recommendations the urgent introduction of a National Certification Scheme of retrofit technologies to cover PM and NOx abatement technologies.

 

One basis for such a scheme might be chassis dynamometer testing for initial approval of the NOx abatement technology, plus a requirement for an on-board datalogger which could be interrogated at the annual vehicle test to confirm that the system has been operational in service. We would be pleased to expand on this proposal if required.

 

 

 

5. London Air Quality Strategy

 

EIC generally welcomes the set of policies and proposals contained in the Mayor's draft Air Quality Strategy, which seems to acknowledge the role of retrofit technologies in reducing vehicle emissions from the existing vehicle parc. The new proposals for a further phase for the London Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in 2015, coupled with the retrofit of PM and NOx abatement technologies to diesel-powered buses remaining in the fleet at that time, are particularly welcome.

 

Our major concerns are two-fold: (1) a greater degree of urgency is needed if these policies are to be transformed into practice; and (2) the funding gap that needs to be filled to deliver the more ambitious (and arguably the more effective) of the proposals to proceed in a timely and effective manner, which is expected to be in the region of 70 - 100 million. EIC is very concerned that unless this is funding gap filled, the Strategy cannot be implemented properly. 

 

 

 

6. Funding for Retrofit

 

Barack Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides US$300 million of funding through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act to heavy-duty diesel vehicle and equipment owners to retrofit their fleets - at a time when the US Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that retrofitting diesel vehicles is highly cost-effective and generates US$13 of health benefits for every US$1 spent.

 

In Germany, up to 2,000 is available to contribute to the capital costs of a particulate filter. In Holland, funding available on a sliding scale depending on the size of the engine and emission reduction performance of the technology - up to 11,000 is available per vehicle.

 

This could be focussed initially on London in order to fill the funding gap identified in the Mayor's draft Air Quality Strategy.

 

EIC believes that the Government should incentivise the uptake of transport pollution control measures by:

Announcing a National Framework for Low Emission Zones supported by funding for retrofit of PM and/or NOx abatement technologies - see Section 3.

Introducing an equivalent "Enhanced Capital Allowance" for retrofit technologies. Similar to the existing Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme, EIC believe that vehicle operators purchasing retrofit technologies to clean up polluting vehicles should be entitled to 100 per cent first-year capital allowance.

Incentivise the early uptake of Euro VI vehicles through the continued use of the Reduced Pollution Certification (RPC) scheme.

 

In advance of the 2009 Budget, EIC called for the extension of the Reduced Pollution Certification (RPC) scheme from 1 October 2009 for all heavy-duty vehicles that meet the Euro VI levels before they become mandatory. We welcomed, therefore, the announcement in the Budget that the Government would introduce measures to incentivise the early uptake of Euro VI vehicles before the standard becomes mandatory.

 

The Reduced Pollution Certification (RPC) scheme offers reduced rates of vehicle excise duty to heavy goods vehicles and public service vehicle operators who take action to reduce the emissions of their vehicles to a certain level - before the corresponding mandatory requirements come into force. Since October 2007, RPCs have been available for lorries and buses that meet Euro V standards before they become mandatory in October 2009. This is similar to the scheme that existed prior to October 2006 for Euro IV vehicles.

 

The RPC scheme is an excellent example of Government policy helping to commercialise new technologies ahead of regulatory requirements. This helps create a "lead market" for emission reduction technologies, which can be exported across the EU once mandatory standards come into force.

 

 

 

7. Promoting Technological Change and Cleaner Vehicles

 

Central Government has a key role to play in incentivising low emission vehicles through further changes to vehicle excise duty and other tax regimes, with a focus on air quality as well as CO2. Grants for retrofitting abatement equipment, targeted directly at reducing tailpipe emissions from heavy duty vehicles (HDVs), were introduced very effectively in the UK in the mid 1990s and are now used in other European countries. There is further scope for increasing the differentials between vehicles conforming to different emissions standards.

 

We would also welcome measures that would promote the uptake of cleaner freight vehicles through green procurement standards. Such measures would have a beneficial effect across the UK.

 

 

 

8. Reducing Emissions from the Public Transport Fleet

 

Some towns and cities have already made strenuous efforts to ensure that their buses in particular are as clean as possible, and have embarked on programmes to fit diesel particulate filters (DPFs). This includes London, which was at the forefront of this movement but is now in danger of being left behind by other UK and European cities, which have already started retrofitting combined DPF and SCR (selective catalytic reduction) systems to reduce NOx as well as PM.

 

The Mayor of London's Air Quality Strategy draft does propose retrofitting the remaining Euro III buses in the London fleet with NOx abatement equipment by 2015. This is welcome, but should be started next year instead of waiting. Technology has been proven in a two-year trial, which TfL has stated was a success. The technology enables a Euro III (and indeed a Euro II) bus to meet emissions levels equivalent to Euro V.

 

In addition, other local authorities should be encouraged to do this, as it is a cost-effective way of reducing fleet emissions and improving air quality in town and city centres, where the greatest number of inhabitants will be affected.

 

We would welcome acceleration of the take up of cleaner vehicles into taxi fleets, including introducing age-based limits for taxis. London's introduction of a requirement for all newly-licensed PHVs to meet a minimum Euro 4 standard for PM emissions from 2012 should not overlook the option for retrofitting older vehicles to meet this standard; full wall-flow filter systems can reduce the particulate matter emissions of Euro 3 taxis to better than Euro 4.

 

We would encourage all local authorities to develop low emissions strategies for all of their public sector vehicles, to include minimum emissions requirements for these fleet vehicles. We believe that public sector captive fleets can and should comply with Euro IV standards immediately. In this context, we would ask that specific encouragement be given to promoting retrofit (of DPF+SCR) as a cost effective option for achieving this standard.

 

 

 

9. Reducing Emissions from Construction and Demolition Sites

 

Dust and emissions from demolition and construction sites can have a significant impact on air quality, not only on the site itself but also on the health of people living and working in the surrounding area.

 

Construction sites are often located in areas of high air pollution, such as London - adding a further health burden on those living close to these sites.

 

A significant proportion of these emissions come from non-road mobile machinery used on demolition and construction sites. For example, the City of Westminster's draft Air Quality Strategy estimates that construction sites are responsible for 16 per cent of road transport emissions of particulate matter.

 

It is widely acknowledged that reducing emissions at construction sites in London and across the UK will make an important contribution to meeting the UK's obligations under the Ambient Air Quality Directive.

 

Whilst the London Low Emission Zone ensures that heavy-duty vehicles over 3.5 tonnes used on major construction sites in London, including the Crossrail site, meet EU emission standards for particulate matter, equivalent standards for the construction machinery used on site do not exist.

 

Emission standards for construction machines are much lower than the equivalent on-road vehicle. The Non-Road Mobile Machinery Directive sets emissions standards for new engines but this does not have any impact on existing machinery. Furthermore, even new construction equipment cannot achieve equivalent emission standards to on-road vehicles.

 

In 2006, the Mayor of London published 'Best Practice Guidance On the Control of Dust and Emissions From Construction and Demolition' to assist architects, consultants, developers and local authority officers in establishing best practice for reducing emissions across all aspects of managing a demolition or construction site, including from non-road mobile machinery.

 

The London Best Practice Guidance states that non-road mobile machinery with power outputs of over 37kW should be fitted with suitable after-treatment devices listed on an approved list managed by the Energy Saving Trust. Fitting suitable after treatment devices to existing machinery - in line with the 'Best Practice Guidance' - can reduce emissions by at least 85 per cent.

 

We are disappointed, however, that this part of the Best Practice Guidance has not been enforced by the GLA, in spite of there being a number of approved aftertreatment suppliers and systems on the list managed by the Energy Saving Trust.

 

Whilst it is encouraging to see that the Mayor of London, in his draft Air Quality Strategy, intends to address this, albeit three years after the launch of the Guidance, air quality in London has suffered for the reasons given below:

To-date, there has been a total failure to enforce the section of the guidance relating to non-road mobile machinery on any major construction site in London, so air quality is not being protected.

The construction for the Olympic Games represented an enormous opportunity to demonstrate the 'green credentials' of the ODA, but the implementation of DPF retrofit on diesel plant over 37kW has been delayed (by lack of ambition and lack of will) to the stage where much of this opportunity has passed - see Section 9.1.

The Crossrail project represents the next opportunity for positive action in this area, but there are already signs that the implementation of DPF retrofit will not be pursued. As GLA has direct control over this project as a division of TfL, we would expect a robust implementation programme

 

EIC also recommend that the BPG, or equivalent, is rolled out nationwide, as construction sites around the country suffer from the same poor air quality as those in London. At the heart of this must be consistent emission standards for non-road mobile machinery, including a recommendation that local authorities introduce a requirement to fit suitable after-treatment devices to all non-road mobile machinery operating over a specified power output threshold in line with the London 'Best Practice Guidance.'

 

Government departments and local authorities should in particular include full implementation of the BPG in procurement policies, and ensure that strategic applications require implementation of the BPG.

 

 

9.1 London 2012

 

The Olympic Delivery Authority's Sustainable Development Strategy includes a commitment to full implementation of the 'London Best Practice Guidance.'

 

Furthermore, Lord Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, has recently stated:

 

"... during the development of our Olympic facilities, all works will be carried out in accordance with the Olympic Park Code of Construction Practice. This will be published on the London 2012 website shortly and sets out a series of measures the ODA (Olympic Delivery Authority) will apply throughout the construction and legacy transformation phases to control and minimise dust and emissions from construction activities. This includes ensuring works are carried out in accordance with the [London] Best Practice Guidance: The Control of Dust and Emissions from Construction & Demolition."

 

Despite these commitments, the Olympic site has failed to implement the Guidance. Construction started on the Olympic site in April 2006, yet I was recently informed in writing that the ODA "haven't retrofitted any plant on site."

 

EIC recently submitted a Briefing Paper to the ODA which clearly demonstrated that fitting suitable after treatment devices to existing construction machinery is cost effective, has huge environmental benefits and does not jeopardise fuel efficiency, machine functionality or the safety of vehicle operators.

 

It is disappointing that the ODA appears to have disregarded this expert input in reaching its decision to hold a "pilot study" of after-treatment devices on the Olympic site.

 

It remains EIC's firm belief that starting a "pilot study" now is unacceptable when there has been a commitment from day one to comply with all aspects of the London Best Practice Guidance. However, we have tried to cooperate with the ODA to ensure that the abatement of construction plant in line with the Best Practice Guidance occurs as an urgent priority.

 

Despite this we remain seriously concerned at the apparent lack of urgency the ODA has shown to fulfilling its commitment to comply in full with the London Best Practice Guidance.

 

Over the last two years the ODA has highlighted "a number of issues" that have been raised regarding the commitment to fitting suitable after-treatment devices to construction machinery in line with the Best Practice Guidance.

 

Every one of these "issues" have either been addressed through the Precis forum or through the strict accreditation process established by the Energy Saving Trust to ensure after-treatment devices for construction machines operate properly and fully comply with the requirements of the Best Practice Guidance.

 

The Energy Saving Trust provides an independent certification and register service for pollution control technologies to ensure that it satisfies the requirements of the London Best Practice Guidance. Conformity testing is carried out on approved technologies to ensure an ongoing high level of performance and upholding of Energy Saving Trust certification standards.

 

As part of the accreditation process, each aftertreatment device is required to comply with strict standards concerning warranties; functionality; safety and emission control. EIC remains extremely concerned that the ODA's "pilot study" is proposing to address exactly the same issues.

 

Furthermore, in response to a recent question by Darren Johnson in the London Assembly, Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, recognised "that the work carried out in the development of the BPG, as well as EST's certification process for after treatment devices, provide overwhelming evidence of their environmental benefits. It is also clear that devices certified by EST meet minimum standards for a range of factors, including emissions reductions, noise, safety and engine efficiency." EIC is extremely concerned that the ODA's "pilot study" is proposing to address these issues despite this "overwhelming evidence."

 

The Mayor went on to state in his response that "as yet, there has been very little use of these devices on actual construction sites in London, or indeed elsewhere in this country." However, diesel particulate filters (DPFs) have been fitted successfully to construction machinery for many years. For example, fitment was mandated in Switzerland for tunneling equipment in 2000, and for other construction machines in 2003. To date, around 10,000 filter systems have been fitted. Filters can be fitted to ensure that the machine's operation is unaffected and the operator's visibility is not impaired.

 

The Mayor's response also called for a "quick pilot study." The Mayor went on to state that his "officials are pressing for the trial to be as short as possible, and assuming it is successful, that this leads to immediate rollout." It is disappointing that the ODA appears to have ignored the Mayor's request.

 

I am pleased to attach a copy of EIC's recent paper 'Comments on the Olympic Delivery Authority's Proposed Study Plan for Reducing PM10 from Non-Road Mobile Machinery' as supplementary evidence to the Committee's inquiry.

 

 

9.2 Crossrail

 

Crossrail is the most significant construction site in Europe.

 

EIC welcomes Crossrail's commitment to "implement measures to control and limit emissions which will affect some residents and other sensitive receptors as far as reasonably practicable."

 

We believe that Crossrail could demonstrate environmental leadership by extending this commitment to full implementation of the Best Practice Guidance. Full implementation of the Best Practice Guidance will ensure that this work has a minimal impact on the health of local people.

 

 

 

10. Climate Change

 

The effects of PM on health and air quality are well documented, but there is a growing body of evidence confirming that black carbon, emitted from diesel engines, is a significant contributor to climate change. Black carbon has been estimated to be the second largest contributor to global warming, with emissions from diesel vehicles comprising nearly a quarter of total black carbon emissions.

 

DPF fitment is the most appropriate action to take to reduce black carbon emissions. Using a Euro III double deck bus as an example, we estimate that the black carbon savings from fitting a DPF could be 30% of the total climate impact, equivalent to a 44% improvement in fuel consumption. Fitting DPF technology to diesel engines such as trucks, buses, construction machines, emergency generators and trains will not only improve air quality and public health, but will be highly beneficial to short term climate change and local urban warming in London.

 

I trust you will find these comments useful.

 

18 December 2009



[1] 'Annual European Community Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution Convention Emission Inventory Report 1990-2006'

[2] Paragraph 36 of Schedule 22 of Environment Act 1995 can include the pursuit of air quality standards in Traffic Management Orders.