Draft EU road machinery law 'will create more pollution'

[Waitscm/Creative Commons]

EXCLUSIVE / Large diesel-powered machines responsible for toxic emissions in Europe’s urban areas will not be obliged to limit emissions of ultrafine particulate matter (PM) by using particle filters, and will not need to report their CO2 emissions, under key parts of a draft EU law seen by EurActiv.

Diesel fumes are one of the principal causes of cancer according to the World Health Organisation, and a major contributor to the 400,000 premature deaths each year in Europe caused by air pollution.

In major cities such as London, pollution from machines used in roadside labour accounts for 15% of nitrogen oxide (NOx), and 12% of particulate matter (PM) emissions, with construction workers exposed to the highest levels.  

But while the draft Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) directive limits NOx emissions to 0.67 grams per KiloWatt hour (KWh) for equipment such as electricity generation sets, it exempts the largest and worst-polluting diesel engines – with a power rating of more than 560 KWh – from obligation to filter some of the most dangerous forms of particulate pollution.

“This will encourage people to use bigger generating equipment that creates more pollution and more cancer,” Greg Archer, the clean vehicles manager for Transport and Environment, a campaigning group, told EurActiv.

An EU stakeholder consultation report last year said that setting particulate emissions limits for machinery with a 560KWh power rating would achieve "significant emission reductions" and "avoid market distortions" as well as bringing "environmental gains".

The effects of increased compliance costs and fuel consumption would be dampened as most affected manufacturers already exported to more regulated markets, it found.

Yet the draft directive appears to have moved away from this perspective. “For some reason there is also no standard for particle matter pollution for diesel locomotives so they won’t need particle filters either, even though rail cars are included,” Archer said. “It is just anomalous.”

In the stakeholder submissions though, Europe's electricity association, Eurelectric requested that the NRMM not be extended to stationary engines "to avoid duplication of environmental regulation" such as the Industrial Emissions Directive.

Thermo King Ingersoll Rand supported an alignment with the US Environmental Protection Agency's more exacting emissions standards, and voiced concerns for space constraints in transport refrigeration units (TRUs) and unharmonised fuel quality standards. 

"We urge the Commission to consider the cost and feasibility impacts for TRU manufacturers associated with implementing advances technologies that would be required by revisions to the directive," the company wrote. "It should also be noted that compliance is costly to small and medium-sized enterprises that support TRU operations."

Examples of machinery likely to be covered by the new directive include: generators, bulldozers, fork-lifts, pumps, construction machinery, garden equipment, industrial trucks, and mobile cranes.

Diesel-powered waterway vessels

Diesel-powered small inland waterway vessels are exempted from particulate emissions restrictions in the draft directive, although they are heavy emitters. Larger vessels though would be covered by the proposed law.

The European Barge Union in its stakeholder submission said that the renewal or retrofitting of engines in its legacy fleet was "only acceptable on a voluntary basis".

"A mandatory renewal of this fleet would lead to a distortion of competition with regard to non-EU fleet (i.e. on the lower Danube) and most of all with regard to other modes of transport where emission standards are only applicable for new engines," their contribution said.

Particulate number (PN) limits - as opposed to the particulate matter (PM) mass limits in the legislation - would oblige the fitting of diesel particulate filters which can reduce emissions of the most dangerous ultrafine diesel particles that penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream.

They can also reduce the output of black carbon, a powerful contributor to climate change, as well as a health concern, for its ability to carry a wide variety of combustion-derived chemical cocktails to sensitive organs such as the lungs, the body’s defence cells and possibly the systemic blood circulation.

Invisible killer

“If the Commission is serious about arresting this invisible killer in our cities, it must close these loopholes before it issues the law," Archer commented.

The NRMM directive was a Brussels response to an increase in the amount of stationary construction machines, many of which fell beyond the aegis of existing legislation.

The oft-amended laws on statute covering engine exhaust emissions were seen as overly-complex and ineffective.  While emissions standards for road vehicles became more stringent, due to health and climate concerns, equivalent measures for diesel machines lagged behind.

But the new draft law does not impel equipment manufacturers to report or even, in many cases, measure their CO2 emissions until at least 2025, when the clause will be reviewed. In the interim 15 years, accurate fuel efficiency analysis of the road machinery sector would be unlikely.

Campaigners also complain that the draft’s requirements for in-service checking of machines to ensure they meet the required NOx limits are “inadequate and unclear” and that compliance lead-in times stretching to 2021 for some classes of machine are too long.


Tim Hamers, technical adviser to the European Committee of Agricultural Machinery said: "In the last years significant improvements were already made by the machinery industry resulting in a reduction of emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen-oxide of respectively 95% and 96%. The new strict Stage V emission limits will reduce the particulate matter and nitrogen-oxide exhaust emissions of machinery even further, making European macinery the cleanest in the world. The agricultural machinery industry is willing to contribute to cleaner air for Europe with stricter limits, but would like to see some changes in the practicalities of the proposal like the transition scheme and provisions on replacement engines.

  • Summer 2014: New proposal for a NRMM Directive expected to be published by DG Enterprise
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AR's picture

I am Alberto Rodrigues an economical and digital science researcher Given that for investors ,entreprenors the most important thing for them is profit the best way to descourage pollution is to teach them how they can get high profit in short time without consuming resourses and make pollution

In the other hand we know that strategic investors ,smart tourists ,and foreign students are searching for countries ,cities regions less polluted to invest visit and study

Given that a large number of investors and companies and leaving Europe Union and go to BRIC Countries and one of the few advantage of EU compared to what BRIC countries can offer them is that EU is a less polluted than BRIC ,because of this Europe Union must give strong signal to investors ,tourist and foreign students

One of those signs can be
1) Teach entrepreneurs which kind of business they can do and get hig profit without consuming resources
and produce pollution
2) Introduces obligatory courses from elementary school until Universities leveles
3) Organise know how and transfer events about those kind of business in the less EU pollueted cities ,as Viena ,Marbela ,Malmo ,Helsinki ,Stockholm ,and in some Danube Cities as Constanta ,Tulcea in Romania and some other from Germany and Austria

4) Teach entrepreneurs which kind of business they can do and employ people who can work from home ,what will be the charges the employes will do from home Like this a large number of people will leave big and so crowed EU cities go to villages and the country side lives there in a very healty way ,with their familiy and in the same time works for different companies and get hig salaries

5) For this purpose EU must introduces starting from elementary school until the University degree ,courses about how to work from home and get high salary

Until them all the 28 EU countries must organise online course for all education nevels ,conferences about those issues and in the same time but in separated mode organise also online courses for entrepreneurs ,conferences and training so they can know in which economic fields they can invest and take benefit from those advantages
6) In paralel with this EU must alocate found with priority for those activities area and sto blocking them in different other projects which do not bring high profit in short time and create a large number of well paied jobs

EU countries can eliminate taxes for companies which are going to reinvest profit in those activities areas and help companies pay salaries for those who are going to work in those fields

7) EU can give also special support for companies who will employe people who can work from home Given that up to know EU had been blocked found in different activities area which do not bring hig profit in short time ,create a large number of jobs

,and which consume resource make pollution and which need people to move from their home town to so crowed EU cities ,there is no other projec ts more viable than those i had presented here

Because of this Angela Merkel ,Bruxelles ,European commission must recommend EU countries to make reseach in order to identify as much economic fields where money can be invested companies can get high profit without producing resourses and make pollution,as it would be possible

In the same time Universities and researches centers must make researches in order to identified as much as it is possible economic jobs which can be done from home ,and whatever people will kow to do them and help companies to increase sales with low costs

SteveUSA2014's picture

Diesel is NOT a "principal cause of cancer" according to WHO as this story alleges. Diesel classified as a carcinogen along with a long list of items including sunlight and Chinese sun fish. WHO has never said diesel is a principal cause of cancer!

While this story focuses primarily on diesel construction and agricultural equipment, recent media reports in Paris and London inaccurately claim diesel transport vehicles are the primary cause of NOx & PM pollution in Europe. Two papers by extremely credible sources were released in Europe in May and clearly rebuke this allegation and they state that diesel is not the primary cause of NOx and PM pollution in Europe.

According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe paper entitled “Diesel Engine Exhausts: Myths and Realities”:

“From the data and facts mentioned above, we conclude with a high degree of reliability that it is misleading to claim that people’s exposure to diesel engines of road motor vehicles is the cause of increased risk of lung cancer.

“Eighty three percent of particulate matters emissions in European Union countries (EEA, 2012a) and 97 percent in the United States of America (EPA 2013) and Canada is generated by other economic sectors, mainly the commercial, institutional and household sector.

“Therefore, the claim that emissions from diesel engine exhausts from road transport are the main cause of lung cancer in humans needs to be seriously challenged. It does not mean however, that measures to improve the environmental performance of the transport sector can stop. On the contrary, they must continue and in an aggressively well targeted way.”

The 2nd paper supported by the several agencies including the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the Federal Roads Office (FEDRO), the Swiss National Science Foundation, the EU commission, the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the French Environment and Energy Management Agency.concludes:

"Cars and trucks, particularly diesel vehicles, are thought to be the main vehicular pollution sources. This needs re-thinking, as we show that elevated particulate matter levels can be a consequence of ‘asymmetric pollution’ from two-stroke scooters, vehicles that constitute a small fraction of the fleet, but can dominate urban vehicular pollution through organic aerosol and aromatic emission factors up to thousands of times higher than from other vehicle classes.”

faulkner's picture

At the time of making of a road or making some plant, they can use the equipments or any other machinery. As per the use of the machines, it creates more pollution and it's very harmful to everybody, so for avoid such type of things, most of the government make the rules for the equipment use and it's pollution.