Beijing imposes fees to curb dust emissions

Beijing imposes fees to curb dust emissions
This file picture dated February 26, 2014 shows a Chinese tourist wearing a face mask in Tiananmen Square as heavy air pollution continues to shroud Beijing

Beijing will levy new fees for discharging dust into the air on all construction sites beginning Sunday in a move designed to control emissions of the most harmful pollutants, the city's environmental watchdog said on Friday.

The fees will cover all major construction projects, including those involving commercial housing and urban infrastructure, the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau said. Small projects, such as building or renovating private houses, will be exempt.

The city has set three levels of fees based on the amount of dust emitted. Sites that meet the national emission standards will be charged 3 yuan (S$0.65) per kilogram of dust.

"For those that perform better, the fees will be cut to 1.5 yuan per kilogram, while those that exceed the standards will pay 6 yuan per kilogram," said Yao Hui, the bureau's deputy director.

Huang Yuhu, deputy head of the air quality bureau under the Beijing Research Institute of Environmental Protection, said, "Dust from construction sites is a major source of air pollution, contributing 14.3 per cent to total levels of PM2.5."

PM2.5 pollutants are airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter that can penetrate the lungs and harm health.

The municipal government said that vehicle exhausts contribute most to concentrations of PM2.5, accounting for 31 per cent, and that coal consumption, industrial production and dust are the next three biggest sources.

"It is critical to reduce the amount of dust generated by construction sites," Huang said.

The fees will be collected by the Beijing Environmental Monitoring Team. Its head, Zhong Chonglei, said the amount to be charged cannot be calculated simply on the basis of the size of a construction site.

"The amount is also related to the duration of construction and the performance of the sites' processes to control dust," he said.

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