Stricter air pollution rules for machinery on the way

The Euro VI levels for heavy-duty on-road engines should serve as a benchmark. Photo: -POD-/ BY-NC-ND

Emission standards for the non-road sector should be extended and strengthened in line with the Euro VI standards for road vehicles, environmental groups demand.

Earlier this year a European Commission consultation suggested tightening emission limits for engines covered by the non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) directive and bringing more types of engines under the scope of these air pollution rules.

The NRMM directive regulates emissions of some major air pollutants (NOx, HC, PM, CO) from diesel and petrol engines in a wide variety of applications, including bulldozers, trains, chainsaws, larger inland boats and many other forms of machinery. The directive dates back to 1997, but has been amended and extended several times since then.

Despite the emission limits set by NRMM directive, emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particle matter (PM) pollutants from this sector are still high and have grown in relative terms. This is explained by the steep increase in the number of non-road machines put into service and by the fact that the emission limits set for NRMM are less strict compared to those mandated for similar engines used by road vehicles.

In its response to the consultation, green group Transport & Environment listed the following main priorities for the revision of the directive:

  • Given serious persistent air quality problems in Europe, Euro VI levels for heavy-duty on-road engines should serve as a benchmark for new standards for NRMM. We are concerned with the much lower ambition levels hinted at in the consultation document;
  • In particular there is a need to solve the problem of diesel PM emissions, and related black carbon, once and for all by introducing Euro VI equivalent standards for particle number count for all engines covered;
  • The scope of the legislation should be extended to also cover engines below 37kW and above 560 kW, and by also including stationary applications (e.g. diesel generators and air conditioning engines);
  • Following developments in standards for the on-road sector, we would prefer moving towards a regulation instead of a directive;
  • Standards should be fuel-neutral.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide and methane) should be measured and reported;
  • Exemptions, flexibilities etc. should be cut drastically so that it is impossible to sell machinery equipped engines complying with an old standard a limited time after entry into force of the standard;
  • In-service emissions need to be a top priority. As a minimum, relevant provisions of Euro VI legislation should be copied to also cover non-road engines;
  • Emissions from existing engines need to be addressed;
  • Transparency should be ensured by mandatory publication of engine emissions performance in an EU-wide publicly accessible database.

According to a recent Commission consultancy study prepared by IIASA for the revision of the EU’s Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution, the NRMM sector was responsible for 16 per cent of EU total emissions of nitrogen oxides in 2010 and 6 per cent of PM2.5 emissions.
The Commission is expected to come up with specific proposals for a revised NRMM directive later this year.

Christer Ågren

Consultation response from Transport & Environment

European Commission’s NRMM website

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