Europe is coming for your lawnmower next

New proposals could outlaw your petrol mower: the latest move in Europe's war on lawns

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Brussels is continuing its assault on vital household tools. After powerful hoovers and hairdryers, your petrol lawnmower is next in line for the chop. The European Commission has included it in a list of petrol-driven equipment which will have to undergo emissions tests. But while tests for trains and agricultural equipment seems sensible, extending it to target the humble mower seems a bit over-the-top.

Ferdinando Nelli Feroci, the commissioner for industry, issued a list of non-road petrol-driven machinery which will be subject to new tests. These includes lots of things no-one would argue with, like bulldozers and crop harvesters, railcars and locomotives, chainsaws and river barges. Nelli Feroci said it would simplify existing regulation and protect the health of European citizens, proclaiming it was "good for business and good for the environment."

However, by including mowers in this list, there are plenty of households who will be thinking it's not all that good for them. Instead of being able to replace their old mower with whatever suits them best, they could be forced to fork out a fortune for a cutting-edge top-of-the-range mower which meets the stringent new emissions requirements.

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War on lawns
It seems almost as though the EC is waging a slow and steady war on neat lawns. The EC has been clamping down on electrical equipment which uses a lot of power, and while hoovers were the first in the firing line, draft legislation will draw powerful electric mowers into it too. For anyone with a sizeable lawn, this is likely to mean they have little choice other than to use a petrol mower.

The new legislation on petrol mowers, meanwhile, is likely mean the outlawing of older or inefficient mowers. If you don't happen to have the spare cash to buy a swanky new lower, you could be facing a season of waist-length grass - which will never be the same again.

Following this to its ultimate conclusion, the law would mean neat lawns giving way to a wilderness. When you consider that a well kept garden adds around 10% to the the value of a property (according to research from, then the EU could end up damaging house prices in its quest for environmental purity.

The good news is that our lawns have survived pressure from Brussels for some time. In 1988 Brussels legislated on the maximum amount of noise a lawnmower ought to be allowed to produce - which at the time was quieter than most of the British models on sale. Fortunately the manufacturers came to our rescue, produced quieter mowers, and we lived to mow another day.

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