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Tighter emission standards for diesel vehicles, motorcycles

SINGAPORE — Emission standards for diesel vehicles and motorcycles will be tightened in the Government’s push to improve air quality, as Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan yesterday outlined plans to tackle raising sea levels and enhance the country’s waste management systems.

SINGAPORE — Emission standards for diesel vehicles and motorcycles will be tightened in the Government’s push to improve air quality, as Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan yesterday outlined plans to tackle raising sea levels and enhance the country’s waste management systems.

To reduce the level of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 — a very fine pollutant which can cause respiratory problems — Dr Balakrishnan said emission standards for new diesel vehicles will be raised to Euro V from Jan 1 next year. Vehicles currently account for 57 per cent of PM2.5 emissions here.

An Early Turnover Scheme that aims to encourage the turnover and upgrading of some 38,000 old commercial vehicles with pre-Euro or Euro I emission standards will also be implemented. These vehicles were mostly bought before Jan 1, 2001.

More details will be provided by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and Land Transport Authority within the next two months, Dr Balakrishnan said.

The NEA also announced yesterday that test standards for existing diesel vehicles will be tightened from 50 Hartridge Smoke Units (HSU) to 40 HSU to reduce air pollution brought about by smoky diesel vehicles.

Tighter emission standards will also apply to motorcycles, which will have standards raised to Euro III by Oct 1 next year.

“These new motorcycles will emit less than a fifth of the pollutants compared to the current fleet,” Dr Balakrishnan said. There are more than 143,000 motorcycles on the roads, most of which are of Euro I standard.

Motorcycle dealers interviewed said the higher emission standards could lead to bikes costing 20 to 30 per cent more, potentially hitting budget buyers the hardest.

President of the Singapore Motor Cycle Trade Association (SCMTA) Wilson Phoon, who noted that most motorcycles are currently imported from around South-east Asia, said: “If we are moving to Euro III, then we will have to import models from Europe. This will cost a lot more.”

Calling the shift from Euro I to Euro III by October next year “sudden” and “too short” for the industry to make the necessary adjustments, Mr Phoon also said that the association has appealed to the NEA “for a grace period to implement the changes”.

In response, an NEA spokesperson said the association’s appeal for a three-month grace period to allow “a few members” to register the existing stock of pre-Euro III motorcycles after October next year has been rejected.

“Taking into account the lead time already given, MEWR/NEA assessed that the implementation date of Oct 1, 2014, would not pose problems to the majority of motorcycle brands and thus decided not to accede to SMCTA’s appeal. This decision has been communicated to SMCTA accordingly,” the spokesperson added.

In Parliament yesterday, Dr Balakrishnan said the ministry is guarding against an anticipated rise in sea levels of “anything between 60cm and a metre or beyond” by increasing the platform levels for reclaimed land by 1 metre last year.

“So all reclaimed land now will be at least 2.25m above the highest recorded sea level. This is buying insurance for the future,” he said.

On Nominated Member of Parliament Faizah Jamal’s concerns that the Semakau Landfill will run out of space in the next 40 years, he said the ministry is planning a new Waste-to-Energy incineration plant to maximise resource recovery and reduce landfill space. A Phase 2 has also been “marked out” that will increase the landfill’s size to meet Singapore’s disposal needs “until 2035”.

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