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The IPPC Directive

smokeSummary of Directive 2008/1/EC concerning integrated pollution prevention and control (the IPPC Directive)

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). The EU has adopted in 1996 a set of common rules for permitting and controlling industrial installations in the IPPC Directive (Directive 96/61/EC). The IPPC Directive has recently been codified (Directive 2008/1/EC).

In essence, the IPPC Directive is about minimising pollution from various industrial sources throughout the European Union. Operators of industrial installations operating activities covered by Annex I of the IPPC Directive are required to obtain an environmental permit from the authorities in the EU countries. About 52.000 installations are covered by the IPPC Directive.

New installations, and existing installations which are subject to "substantial changes", have been required to meet the requirements of the IPPC Directive since 30 October 1999. Other existing installations had to be brought into compliance by 30 October 2007. This was the key deadline for the full implementation of the Directive.

The IPPC Directive is based on several principles, namely (1) an integrated approach, (2) best available techniques, (3) flexibility and (4) 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.
  2. The permit conditions including emission limit values (ELVs) must be based on Best Available Techniques (BAT) , as defined in the IPPC Directive. 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 Reference Documents (the so-called BREFs). Executive summaries of the BREFs are translated into the official EU languages.
  3. The IPPC Directive contains elements of flexibility by allowing the licensing authorities, in determining permit conditions, to take into account:

(a) the technical characteristics of the installation,
(b) its geographical location and
(c) the local environmental conditions.

  1. 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 IPPC directive and amendments is also available at the Europa-site.