The Government published a consultation paper on 30 June 2003 setting out the options for implementing the Large Combustion Plants Directive (2001/80/EC) in the UK for plants first licensed before July 1987. For these plants, there is a choice between either setting emission limit values individually for each plant, or establishing a "national plan" under which a "bubble" for each of the pollutants covered by the directive (sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust) could be shared between plants in the scheme.
Consultations closed on 30 September. We received a number of detailed submissions on the consultation paper which we have been considering. No consensus has emerged from the responses to the consultation and there are strongly held views in favour of both implementation options. The choice between the options is also sensitive to other policies on which decisions will be taken in the next few months.
The directive requires that any national plan is submitted to the European Commission by 27 November 2003. However, we consider that further analysis is required before we can be sure which implementation approach it is in the UK interest to adopt. We are therefore submitting a national plan to the Commission at the same time as undertaking this further analysis. This will in effect keep either option open. We would withdraw the plan if this further analysis suggested that the emission limits approach was to be preferred. A decision on whether to withdraw the national plan would be taken before spring 2004.