UK mulls fresh legal action on emissions

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The Independent Online

The British Government is considering a new legal challenge after the European Commission confirmed yesterday it would not allow the UK a greater allowance for carbon dioxide emissions.

Britain had sought to add 20 million tonnes to its annual quota, after it decided last year that its original application for 736 million tonnes was inadequate. Brussels had refused to consider the revised submission, saying it had been made after the deadline. The British Government then took the case to the European Court of First Instance in November, which ruled that the Commission must consider the request.

Yesterday, however, the Commission decided that Britain had missed a 30 September 2004 deadline to submit any changes.

"Since the UK amendment was notified after this deadline, the Commission has passed today's decision rejecting the amended plan," it said.

British industry has lobbied hard for the UK allowances to be raised.

The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "There is an important point of principle here for the UK Government: market-based instruments will only work properly if the commission acts in accordance with the substantive provisions of the directive and doesn't hide behind procedure."

The British Government now has two months to bring a fresh legal action to the European Court of First Instance.

Matthew Farrow, of the CBI, said: "With hard-pressed companies and households struggling with high energy prices, the £350m cost of covering this misguided shortfall in the UK's carbon emissions' allowance is unaffordable."