Environment chiefs have agreed new laws to tighten minimum standards on nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide emissions in the EU. This is acid pollution from heavy industries such as steel, power plants and refining.
The agreement follows a heated debate between countries such as Britain and Poland, with many old coal plants, and others led by Germany that have already invested heavily in cleaning up. The deal was reached by the European Union’s 27 environment ministers in Luxembourg. The Industrial Emissions Directive weaves together seven current air quality laws. Existing power plants will have to begin complying with the new standards by 2016, new plants by 2012. Many installations have managed to avoid cleaning up acidifying pollutants through opt-outs. EU member states will now have to reach a compromise with the new European Parliament before the proposals become law.