The UK’s Environment Agency has allegedly issued illegal permits to industrial plants.
ClientEarth has accused the government of dropping the requirements for coal-fired power plants to “demonstrate they meet air quality laws”.
In a letter to the Environment Agency, ClientEarth states it has been monitoring the implementation of the UK’s Transitional National Plan (TNP) under the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) and raised a number of concerns.
The IED is the main EU tool for regulating emissions from industrial plants and came into effect in January this year. However countries were allowed to extend the deadline if they stated how they would come into compliance by the mid-2020s.
ClientEarth is seeking clarification on the status of 114 Large Combustion Plants which were granted a time-extension as the UK pursued with the TNP option.
It claims the Environment Agency has also dropped the requirement for coal-fired operators to assess the impact of their plants at Natura 2000 sites, a network of nature protection areas.
Client Earth also alleges around 60 industrial plants are operating using permits which were issued before an extension application by the UK under the IED.
Susan Shaw, Lawyer at the environmental legal group said: “This is astounding, even by the shambolic nature of this government’s energy and environment policies. We have coal-fired power stations and other industrial installations now operating on illegal permits and at the same time the Environment Agency – the body charged with protecting our health and environment – has removed key safeguards on air quality modelling and monitoring.
“It’s even more baffling when you consider the government’s inability to meet air quality limits designed to protect our health and the environment. The government clearly thinks that by pretending this problem doesn’t exist, it will go away.”
An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We will look into the details of ClientEarth’s concerns and respond in due course.”