An agreement on national emissions standards and measures for non-road engines is ahead of schedule, with details due to be finalised by the end of 2015 – six months ahead of schedule. Under the terms of the new standards, which fall under the umbrella of a National Clean Air Agreement, Australia will adopt new emissions standards and measures for all non-road engines, believed to contribute up to 10 percent of Australia’s air pollution. This would cover marine engines and all outdoor power equipment such as trimmers, brushcutters, mowers, chainsaws, grass cutting equipment and generators. New Australian emissions standards will only apply to newly built and imported engines and will not affect existing engines already built, purchased or in stores for sale. It will bring the industry into line with the US, China and the EU.

The Outdoor Power Equipment Association (OPEA) has played a key role in the formation and development of the new standards: reforms were initiated more than a decade ago, but an industry accord has only reached fruition under the current Federal Government, as supported by the Federal Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt. OPEA members, in partnership with members of the Australian Marine Engine Council (AMEC), convened at the 2015 Melbourne Boat Show on 12 June to hear Mr Hunt endorse the proposed new standards, and explain implementation processes and timelines.

Power Equipment Australasia was delighted to attend this gathering, which brought together many of the most influential leaders in Australasia’s OPE industry. Guests included Gareth Taylor, National Marketing Manager MTD Products Australia and President of OPEA; Robert Toscana, Managing Director Honda Australia (MPE); Chris New, MPE Manager Marine & OEM Department at Honda Australia; Rob Baker, Brands Compliance Manager STIHL; Tom Rugg, Managing Director – South East Asia & Australasia at Briggs & Stratton; and Peter Wallace, Director of Sales at Briggs & Stratton. Minister Hunt said the Federal Government, in consultation with States and Territories, was finalising a Regulation Impact Statement on options to cut emissions from non-road engines and equipment.

It is expected this will be included as part of the National Clean Air Agreement, Mr Hunt confirmed. State and Territory Ministers have agreed to establish a working group of experts, led by Bruce Edwards from the Australian Government’s Department of the Environment, including representatives from every State and Territory, industry and the community. The working group will provide interim advice on actualisation of the standards and framework legislation by the end of 2015, with the aim of implementing standards in the first half of 2016.

“The announcement by Minister Hunt is a positive step forward and is hugely welcomed by OPEA,” said Gareth Taylor, speaking on behalf of OPEA members. In coming months, OPEA will provide information that will assist members in understanding the proposed changes to emissions standards and how they will impact their business. Mr Hunt also used the event to launch ‘Clean Air Champions’, an initiative recognising those in industry, the community and academia who educate and raise awareness of air quality standard issues through their own endeavours. The winner of the first ‘Clean Air Champion’ award was Gary Fooks from Blue Sky Alliance.

Mr Fooks has worked closely with OPEA and Mr Hunt’s office to help bring emissions reforms to reality. Mr Hunt personally thanked Mr Fooks for his “heroic” efforts over many years.

(Ed: See Gary Fooks’ article in Power Equipment Australasia, June-July 2015 Issue, p. 12).