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Catalan Government asks EU for extra time to comply with atmospheric pollution levels

In 2010, Catalonia exceeded the pollution limits for nitrogen oxide defined by the European Union, but not for the polluting particles. The large number of diesel vehicles would be one of the main causes. An extension until 2015 has been asked by the Catalan Government.

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30 May 2011 09:59 PM

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ACN / Sílvia Giménez / Aleix Moldes

Barcelona (ACN).\u2013 In 2010 Catalonia exceeded the pollution limits for nitrogen oxide defined by the European Union (EU), but not for polluting particles. However, the Government has asked the European Commission for an extension until 2015 in order to comply with the European environmental requirements in both cases. Assumpta Ferran, General Director for Environmental Quality, explains that 2010 was an \u201Cespecially rainy\u201D year, and that this affected the reduction of polluting particles in a positive manner. This situation is \u201Cless likely\u201D to be repeated this year. In addition, \u201Cpollution monitoring stations are not adapted to European regulations\u201D, says the Ferran, as some are too close to road traffic and results do not represent average levels.


For 2011, the Catalan Government foresees that the maximum number of permitted emissions of nitrogen oxide nitrogen and polluting particles will be exceeded. Brussels has set a maximum figure of 40 micrograms per cubic meter of air for those elements. \u201CThe highest levels of nitrogen oxide that we have detected in the urban areas of Barcelona have risen up to 60 micrograms per cubic meter\u201D, confirmed Ferran.  This is due in part to the great number of diesel vehicles in Catalonia. Diesel is a very polluting fuel for its particle emissions and especially for nitrogen dioxide. \u201CThe European Union has also begun to ask manufacturers to reduce emissions\u201D underlines Ferran.

Over the next few months the Catalan Government plans to change the location of some pollution monitoring stations. \u201CSome of them do not follow European regulations. They are too close to traffic congestion\u201D, points out the Environmental Quality General Director. By doing so, they will be removed from the most polluted areas: \u201Cthe current monitoring stations are based on the Environmental Law of 1983 and are not adapted to the European Regulation of 2007\u201D.

Catalonia already has an open judicial cause for exceeding the permitted levels of atmospheric pollution. The public prosecutors office of Barcelona wrote a letter to the Catalan Government seeking for all available information concerning the cause. According to Ferran, this letter has not been answered yet by the Government, but they will have to do so before the deadline.

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  • A station monitoring air pollution in Sabadell, in Barcelona's Metropolitan Area (by N. Vidal)

  • A station monitoring air pollution in Sabadell, in Barcelona's Metropolitan Area (by N. Vidal)