The Medium Combustion Plant Directive

Friday, November 17, 2017


This year has seen a significant increase in the UK’s recognition of its clear air problem, London is the chief offender, regularly exceeding air quality limits set by the EU. These limits are designed to protect the environment and reduce the chance of the general public developing health issues. London’s air quality issue focuses on two pollutants that have a reputation for negatively impacting human health; Particulate Matter and NO2. According to DEFRA, “The combined impact of Nitrogen Dioxide and Particulate Matter pollution in the UK is estimated to lead to the equivalent of approximately 50,000 premature deaths per year, at a cost of around £30 billion per year.”

Not tackling the UK’s poor air quality could lead to a whole host of long-term challenges, which will have a serious impact on the UK’s population, economy and environment. Beijing provides a glimpse into the UK’s future if we do not take this threat seriously enough. Imagine spending every day breathing through a mask, barely seeing 5 metres ahead of yourself, and feeling nauseous after twenty minutes of exposure to the atmosphere. This is not the future we want to create for ourselves so recent developments like the BEIS’ Clean Growth Strategy, the ban on petrol and diesel cars by 2040 and the government’s Air Quality Framework are a welcome change of pace

The Directive

Included in this new wave of legislation helping to drive the UK towards cleaner air is the new Medium Combustion Plant Directive (MCPD). This directive will ensure that operators of any combustion plant rated between 1 MWth and 50MWth are legally obliged to register their plant with DEFRA and monitor its resulting emissions (Figure 1). It’s estimated that this legislation will apply to approximately 30,000 plants in the UK, with the desired effect of driving efficiencies in how these plants are designed, commissioned and operated. A plant that produces relatively lower levels of pollutants will provide better value-for-money and have a reduced impact on the environment in comparison to similar plants.

Next steps

The MCPD will be transposed into UK law on the 19th December 2017. If these regulations impact your organisation you have till December 2018 to register your participation, and commence mandatory monitoring and reporting. In order to ensure your business is both compliant with the directive and using it to drive sustainable improvement in your business begin making changes now within your organisation.

Simple steps such as putting in place a clear monitoring and reporting structure as well as educating your staff on the importance of properly operating your combustion plant will ensure that the MPCD is an agent for change and not simply a box-ticking exercise.

This piece is the first of many from our new recruit, Jack Morris

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