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Low-Level Ozone

Volume 173: debated on Tuesday 5 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he is taking to combat the rise in low-level ozone.

[holding answer 24 May 1990]: Low-level ozone is produced by the action of sunlight on oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The Government are acting to reduce emissions of both classes of compound. The main sources of NOx in the United Kingdom are motor vehicles and power stations; the main sources of VOCs are motor vehicles, industrial processes and solvents. Tight new standards for new cars, which will come into effect by the end of 1992, will cut their emissions of both NOx and VOCs by at least 80 per cent. We are pressing the Commission for tight standards on NOx emissions from heavy diesels. We are committed by the EC large combustion plant directive to reducing NOx emissions from existing power stations and large industrial boilers by 15 per cent. by 1993 and 30 per cent. by 1998 against a 1980 baseline.NOx and VOCs travel long distances and United Kingdom ozone episodes can be exacerbated by pollutants from abroad. It is therefore essential to tackle these problems internationally. The United Kingdom is strongly supporting Commission proposals for a directive requiring monitoring of ozone levels and is actively contributing to negotiations within the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe convention on long-range transboundary air pollution aimed at reducing VOC emissions from all sources.