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The Industrial Emissions Directive

smokeSummary of Directive 2010/75/EU on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control)

Industrial production processes account for a considerable share of the overall pollution in Europe (for emissions of greenhouse gases and acidifying substances, wastewater emissions and waste).

In order to take further steps to reduce emissions from such installations, the Commission adopted its proposal for a Directive on industrial emissions on 21 December 2007 (for further information on the proposal, click here).

This proposal was a recast of 7 existing pieces of legislation and its aim is to achieve significant benefits to the environment and human health by reducing harmful industrial emissions across the EU, in particular through better application of Best Available Techniques. The IED entered into force on 6 January 2011 and has to be transposed into national legislation by Member States by 7 January 2013.

The IED is the successor of the IPPC Directive and in essence, it is about minimising pollution from various industrial sources throughout the European Union. Operators of industrial installations operating activities covered by Annex I of the IED are required to obtain an integrated permit from the authorities in the EU countries. About 50.000 installations were covered by the IPPC Directive and the IED will cover some new activities which could mean the number of installations rising slightly.

The IED is based on several principles, namely (1) an integrated approach, (2) best available techniques, (3) flexibility, (4) inspections and (5) public participation.

  1. The integrated approach means that the permits must take into account the whole environmental performance of the plant, covering e.g. emissions to air, water and land, generation of waste, use of raw materials, energy efficiency, noise, prevention of accidents, and restoration of the site upon closure. The purpose of the Directive is to ensure a high level of protection of the environment taken as a whole.

Should the activity involve the use, production or release of relevant hazardous substances, the IED requires operators to prepare a baseline report before starting an operation of an installation or before a permit is updated having regard to the possibility of soil and groundwater contamination, ensuring the integrated approach.

  1. The permit conditions including emission limit values (ELVs) must be based on the Best Available Techniques (BAT), as defined in the IPPC Directive. BAT conclusions (documents containing information on the emission levels associated with the best available techniques) shall be the reference for setting permit conditions. To assist the licensing authorities and companies to determine BAT, the Commission organises an exchange of information between experts from the EU Member States, industry and environmental organisations. This work is co-ordinated by the European IPPC Bureau of the Institute for Prospective Technology Studies at the EU Joint Research Centre in Seville (Spain). This results in the adoption and publication by the Commission of the BAT conclusions and BAT Reference Documents (the so-called BREFs).

  2. The IED contains certain elements of flexibility by allowing the licensing authorities to set less strict emission limit values in specific cases. Such measures are only applicable where an assessment shows that the achievement of emission levels associated with BAT as described in the BAT conclusions would lead to disproportionately higher costs compared to the environmental benefits due to

(a) geographical location or the local environmental conditions or

(b) the technical characteristics of the installation.

The competent authority shall always document the reasons for the application of the flexibility measures in the permit including the result of the cost-benefit assessment.

Moreover, Chapter III on large combustion plants includes certain flexibility instruments (Transitional National Plan, limited lifetime derogation, etc.)

  1. The IED contains mandatory requirements on environmental inspections. Member States shall set up a system of environmental inspections and draw up inspection plans accordingly. The IED requires a site visit shall take place at least every 1 to 3 years, using risk-based criteria.

  2. The Directive ensures that the public has a right to participate in the decision-making process, and to be informed of its consequences, by having access to

(a) permit applications in order to give opinions,

(b) permits,

(c) results of the monitoring of releases and

(d) the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR). In E-PRTR, emission data reported by Member States are made accessible in a public register, which is intended to provide environmental information on major industrial activities. E-PRTR has replaced the previous EU-wide pollutant inventory, the so-called European Pollutant Emission Register (EPER).

A short summary of the IED is also available at the Europa-site.