Select Committee on European Communities Seventeenth Report


Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to Lord Whitty, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

  Your Explanatory Memorandum, dated 5 February, on the above proposal was considered by Sub-Committee B at its meeting this morning.

  As you will be aware, the Committee has previously supported the general principle of the Auto-Oil programme and has no difficulty in principle with the proposed extension to agricultural and forestry tractors. It continues to take a close interest, however, in plans for smooth implementation.

  The Committee would therefore be grateful if, when you submit the regulatory impact assessment under cover of a supplementary memorandum, you would also:

    (a)  outline the Government's plans for implementation;

    (b)  indicate the extent to which those plans take account of the views of both manufacturers and users, for example the National Farmers' Union and the Forestry Commission;

    (c)  clarify the implications of the proposed link with the non-road mobile machinery directive.

  Bearing in mind that the UK has a significant number of large on-road tractors, the Committee would, at the same time, be grateful for the Government's estimate of the additional costs that would fall on UK users under the proposed Directive and the impact these might have, particularly on smaller concerns.

  In the meantime, the scrutiny reserve is maintained.

18 February 1999

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to Lord Whitty, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

  Thank you for your supplementary Explanatory Memorandum (EM), dated 11 June, on this topic. As the proposal is to be considered at the Environmental Council on 24 and 25 June, this was considered by Sub-Committee B at its meeting this morning.

  As our questions were raised some four months ago, I should say that the Committee found it most unsatisfactory to be asked to deal with the issues at such short notice. That feeling was reinforced by the fact that your EM dealt with those questions neither as straightforwardly nor in quite the depth for which the Committee was looking. If there were more time available, we should want to retain the matter under scrutiny while probing these matters further.

  We would not, though, wish to obstruct the Government's playing a full part in the consideration of the proposal at next week's Environmental Council. We therefore lift our scrutiny reserve. Nevertheless, please let us have a fuller note on:

    —  the practical steps the Government would propose to take for the smooth implementation of the eventual Directive within the legal framework you indicate; and

    —  the linkage with the non-road mobile machinery Directive.

  We want also to reinforce our view about the difficulties that the agricultural sector would have in absorbing any extra costs for the foreseeable future.

17 June 1999

Letter from Lord Whitty, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  Thank you for your letter of 17 June.

  May I begin by saying that I regret that you were given an unacceptably short response time to consider the regulatory impact statement on the above Directive. This was due to the significant amount of time taken by industry to provide cost data and other information in sufficient detail to enable the assessment to be completed. I am extremely grateful, therefore, that you were able to respond quickly and positively to enable us to progress the proposal through to its next stage. I would hope that we will be able to respond in a rather more timely manner in the future.

  I note your concerns about the difficulties the agricultural sector would have in absorbing any extra costs for the foreseeable future.

  You also raise questions with respect to the Government's plans for implementation and the general alignment with directive 97/68/EC. I will now cover both points in rather more detail.


  As you are aware, when the proposal is finally adopted, it will place a mandatory requirement on the UK to implement regulations in line with the directive requirements. I have summarised the planned implementation programme in an annex to this letter for ease of reference.

  Implementation into UK law will follow the same pattern as exists for conventional road vehicles. As indicated in the Department's memoranda, regulations relating to EC Type Approval, National Type Approval and Construction and Use will be amended to introduce the directive requirements.

  All engine and tractor manufacturers are multi-national concerns and are very familiar with type approval procedures that already exist throughout Europe and elsewhere. In the UK, the process of approving a new tractor or engine will fall to the Department's Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), although manufacturers will of course be at liberty to approve with equivalent agencies of other Member States. We do not, therefore, anticipate any difficulty in achieving a smooth introduction, especially as the Vehicle Certification Agency, which has a wealth of experience, will be the UK body responsible for testing and approving tractors to these requirements.

  To further ease the process by avoiding unnecessary bureaucracy, the directive will recognise approvals that have already been obtained under the non-road mobile machinery directive, 97/68/EC, or alternative standards of equivalent severity, such as the road vehicles directive 91/542/EEC. Full details of these equivalent standards are listed in Annex III to the directive. In essence, where an engine already holds an approved certificate to 97/68/EC, for example, the engine will automatically qualify for use in a tractor without any additional burden being placed on the engine manufacturer. The emission standards, the power bands and the engine marking requirements have all been aligned with 97/68/EC, and therefore a valid Certificate of Approval to 97/68/EC is all that is necessary to comply with this directive. Equally, there are no additional requirements for approvals held to any of the equivalent directives.


  The only significant difference between this and the 97/68/EC directive relates to the application dates. Member States have been keen to align the dates with 97/68/EC where this is practical, but delay the dates where it is not. The annex to this letter includes the 97/68/EC dates for comparison and I hope you would agree that a sensible compromise has been proposed by the Presidency.

  We will be obliged to respect the dates laid out in the directive. Therefore, as from the 1st date mentioned in the annex, any new type of tractors or tractor engine will need to be approved to the Stage 1 emission limit values prior to the sale of any production units. The directive, and hence the regulations, will not impose any requirements on tractors or tractor engines that are already in production on the 1st date, but all these tractors and engines will be required to be approved by the 2nd date in the table or cease production.

  The same process will apply to the Stage II dates, ie approvals to the Stage I requirements will become invalid for any newly introduced type of tractor or engine from the 3rd date, and sales of any new Stage I tractor or engine will be prohibited from the 4th date.

  One option to these requirements will be the permissive derogation given in Article 4(5) of the directive. This provision will permit Member States to delay the 2nd and 4th dates by up to two years for engines that have already been manufactured prior to these dates but have yet to be installed into tractors. Since engines destined for tractors can be manufactured well in advance of actual tractor manufacture, this does seem a sensible measure to ease manufacturing processes; and is one which we have already incorporated into the regulations introducing 97/68/EC. We have yet to take a definitive view as to whether this same provision is necessary for tractors; and intend to consult further on this point before the regulations are made.

  I hope that the above will be helpful in clarifying the position on the points on which the Committee requested further information.

28 June 1999



Proposed Application Dates

Power kW(Category) Stage I Stage II
1st date New types 2nd date All types3rd date New types 4th date All types
18-37(D)No requirement No requirement31/12/2000 (31/12/1999) 31/12/2001 (31/12/2000)
37-75(C&G)31/12/2000 (30/6/98) 30/6/2001 (31/3/1999)31/12/2002 (31/12/2002) 31/12/2003 (31/12/2003)
75-130(B&F)31/12/2000 (30/6/98) 30/6/2001 (31/12/1998)31/12/2001 (31/12/2001) 31/12/2002 (31/12/2002)
130-560(A&E)- (30/6/98) 30/6/2001 (31/12/1998)31/12/2000 (31/12/2000) 31/12/2001 (31/12/2001)

  Note: Dates in brackets () refer to the Non-road mobile machinery directive, 97/68/EEC.

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