Monday, November 29, 1999

EU states agree to close dirty coal plants by 2024

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Old coal-fired power plants in Europe must be closed by the end of 2023 if their owners are not prepared to fit equipment to filter out acidifying pollutants, European Union member countries agreed on Friday.All other power stations must start planning to cut out pollutants such as sulphur and nitrogen oxides that damage human health and soil and water quality."The UK government, together with other member states, has been able to secure significant additional flexibilities for large combustion plants," a British government spokeswoman said.Countries that are struggling to get the industry cleaned up can get a delay until June 30, 2020, under the informal deal on the Industrial Emissions Directive, which weaves together and updates six air quality laws with the old Large Combustion Plant Directive.European ambassadors in Brussels approved the deal, which was reached in informal talks with the European Parliament late on Wednesday. It must be formally approved by parliament in the coming weeks before becoming law, but sources say that is almost certain.The existing laws contain so many opt-outs that many of the 52,000 European installations have managed to avoid cleaning up acidifying pollutants.The quest for new rules started over two years ago but has been slowed by a row between countries such as Britain and Poland, which have many old coal-fired plants, and others led by Germany that have already invested millions in cleaning up.The rules, which have gone through several different permutations over the last few months, will have a huge impact on countries' energy investment plans and how much money utilities can make by sweating their coal assets.Britain argues that the flexibility will allow it to jump to the next generation of renewable power, without replacing old coal with gas power plants."This will ensure protection of the environment as well as paving the way for a smooth transition to low carbon power generation without jeopardising our security of supply," said the UK government spokeswoman.(Reporting by Pete Harrison, editing by Anthony Barker and Sue Thomas)(For more news on Reuters India, click

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