News in brief

Parliament votes to cut HGV emissions ---- Commission calls for greener energy policies ---- UK in dock over groundwater . . . . .

The European Parliament’s Environment Committee has voted this month to tighten up a proposed new EU directive on exhaust emissions from heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). The amendments seek to tighten the legislation by, for example, introducing type-approval procedures on lorries as from 1st October 2005 and reducing the nitrogen oxide limit from 5.0 g/kWh in the year 2000 to 2.0 in the year 2005. MEPs also proposed requirements to fit all heavy-duty vehicles with on-board diagnostic or measurement systems to monitor exhaust emissions while the vehicle is in service so as to permit rapid detection of faulty components and systems, and that the emission-reducing devices must function throughout the normal life of the vehicle

A European Commission Energy Communication released this month outlined how environmental objectives can be better integrated into energy policies. The document emphasises the need for greener energy policies, based on higher reliance on renewable energy and energy saving techniques. The Communication also highlights the growing importance of voluntary agreements with the energy sector in achieving environmental objectives, whilst at the same time recommending the use of energy taxes . Taxation is seen as an important means of internalising the external environmental costs of energy into the price paid by the consumer.

The European Commission recently announced infringement proceedings against the UK over its alleged failure to properly transpose the 1980 EU Groundwater Directive. The Commission has criticised UK controls on the disposal of sheep-dip pesticides. It is unlikely, however, that the matter will lead to any European Court of Justice action, since the UK has indicated that new regulations to fully transpose the Directive into UK law will be passed this year.

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