Acting European Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard accepted some amendments to European Commission proposals to curtail pollution from large combustion plants (LCPs), at the end of a debate in the European Parliament on 13 April 1999. Opening the debate on behalf of the Energy Committee, MEP María Estevan Bolea acknowledged that low omissions and better air quality were very important, but proportionality, best available technology and cost had to be taken into account also. The Environment Committee had proposed very severe limits. However, if limits were too strict, no-one would meet them, she said. Ria Oomen-Ruijten said that this was part of Europe's anti-acidification strategy. It was necessary to compare developments in Japan and America. Some older installations might be operational until 2040. This was why the Environment Committee was proposing stricter limits than those in the Commission proposal. She called on the UK in particular to leave the "Stone Age" and bring their plants up to date so as to improve people's health. Even tougher regulations could have been proposed: in Austria and The Netherlands more stringent rules were in force. She was all in favour of electricity liberalization, but differences in environmentally friendliness had to be factored into prices. David Bowe (Cleveland and Richmond, PES) said that this proposal had to be taken in conjunction with other measures such as Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control and national emission ceilings. The proposal would propose no problem for new plants, but older plants needed more time to carry out the necessary investment, he said. If limits were too tight, Member States would feel that their energy policy was being dictated to them. However, the report would lead after second reading to substantial improvements in the air surrounding these plants. LCPs in Britain had nothing Stone Age about them, he insisted. He invited Mrs Oomen-Ruijten to visit the Drax power station, for example.