Each dot is an E-PRTR spot.
The European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR) is a register managed by the European Environmental Agency that has data on industrial compounds emitting pollutants beyond the thresholds established in Regulation (EC) No 166/2006. It encompasses a wide array of factories, from urban waste water treatment to surface treatments to slaughterhouses.
As ever with European policies, there can be states with more stringent environmental quality laws, but Europe defines both a common framework and, as relevant as that for spatial planning, common databases that cover the whole of the Union (and often external countries as Norway and Switzerland), so allowing a better knowledge and debate.
The TERM 2013 report by the European Environmental Agency (which can be downloaded at http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/term-2013) analyses the effects on environment of the transport policies, considering the targets, the EU has established to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
These targets are linked to policies set to promote public transportation and non-motorised mobility. It seems that emissions linked to mobility are smaller than the targets established for each year, a positive outcome; but overall emissions are still 25% over the 1990 levels used for targets. Urban pollution problems caused by nitrogen dioxide are relevant and growing due to the expansion of the share of diesel vehicles in the overall fleet.
The report confirms that the cities in which public transportation and non-motorised modes are strong have less pollution and produce less greenhouse gases.
Enter a controversial matter. For some, the right to build on the land they own must be an absolute, regardless of circumstance, and every municipality must be able to decide what to do on its territory; for others, land is a scarce resource, whose use is related to the common good, and development implies relevant costs for local finances, so there is a case for regional planning and growth restrictions.
The European Environmental Agency has published in 2006 a report on the state of urban sprawl in Europe, using Corine Land Cover data. Urban sprawl is studied for several decades in 24 capitals, from central Spain the capitals of the eastern states, and it is evident that the oversize urban growth dynamics seen in the USA are also at work, albeit in different ways, across the European continent.
Munich seems to be the model city in that sense, with a growth planning that has allowed a smaller percentual growth in terms of urban built up area than in terms of population, even when it is vibrant city.