The regional government of Asturias in north-west Spain has been ordered to tighten pollution limits in a permit granted to the coal-fired power station Soto de Ribera.
The Supreme Court of Asturias ruled that the permit approved by the government allowed the plant to emit levels of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust that are illegal under the EU’s Industrial Emissions Directive (IED).
In a statement published last week, the Spanish environmental lawyers’ group IIDMA said the judgment should be a warning to other regional governments which have issued coal plant operating permits that breach the IED’s emission limits.
The 2010 Directive sets limit values for air pollutant emissions that industrial installations must meet to be granted an operating permit. Moreover, all permits for large combustion plants, such as coal-fired power stations, will be reviewed in the next four years to ensure they comply with new, stricter EU standards, set to enter into force in 2021.
IIDMA, which brought the legal challenge, said it would appeal against the regional court’s decision to dismiss its request for the inclusion of emission limits for mercury in the plant’s permit.
The appeal will also demand measures to avoid habitat deterioration in a river, into which the plant discharges its wastewater. The Asturias court rejected the group’s claim that such measures should be included in the permit in accordance with the EU Habitats Directive, considering that the river is a Natura 2000 conservation site.