Five member state countries are requesting that the European Union pursue a more rigorous assessment of pollution rules for coal-fired power plants due to potentially damaging implications for industry.

In a leaked letter, seen by the Financial Times, Thérèse Coffey, the UK’s environment minister, warned the EU environment commissioner, Karmenu Vella, that the “uncertain global economic climate” means new pollution regulations should not impose “a disproportionate financial cost or technical burden on industry”.
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Along with her counterparts from Poland, Greece, Finland and the Czech Republic, Ms Coffey believes more time should be given to a “comprehensive consideration” of the “significant” impact of new limits to be set under the EU’s main industry pollution law, the Industrial Emissions Directive.

The letter, written in September, suggested the Commission set up a “technical working group” to do more assessment of the rules before EU countries decide on them in a vote due early next year.

The previous Conservative party administration had announced a coal-fired power phase-out, so the letter has caused surprise in some quarters.

Representatives from EU countries, industry and non-government groups are meeting in Brussels today to discuss their respective positions on the rules.

Exemptions allowed under the existing requirements have enabled countries to operate coal power stations that exceed the industrial emissions directive’s limits for harmful pollutants such as nitrogen oxides.

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