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MEP warns on EU threat to hospital boilers

A Conservative MEP has warned that at least 70 NHS hospitals face massive hikes in operating costs under proposals to extend a European Union directive on industrial pollution.

The European Parliament is set to vote today (Tuesday March 10) on plans to revise the directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC).

The directive creates a permit system to prevent and limit pollution from large-scale industrial installations, but Caroline Jackson argues this could have serious implications for hospitals due to their reliance on back up boilers.

Dr Jackson, a Conservative member of the European Parliament’s environment committee, said: “'Hospitals require a great deal of spare boiler capacity to cope with fluctuations in demand and this law does not take account of that.

'Unless our amendment is passed, hospitals will be faced with the tough choice of paying the huge costs associated with this law, or shutting down boilers, which could have grave consequences for patient care.

“The commission should have spotted this problem when they drew up the new law: we are not the only country affected.

'The NHS has said that up to 70 hospitals across the UK could be affected, so it is crucial that we recognise their special circumstances.'

Dr Jackson has submitted an amendment to the proposals that would exempt such part-time standby boilers and has already got the backing of the 288 strong centre-right EPP-ED group

She says if the plans go through as they stand hospitals will find that even their reserve boilers will fall within the scope of the directive.

She argues NHS hospitals need to have a significant amount of spare boiler capacity to cope with emergencies and in case there are technical failures.

She is worried the directive would assess their boilers on the basis of their potential emissions, rather than their actual emissions - thus causing them to incur substantial costs to obtain a permit.