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Integrated pollution prevention and control (until 2013)

The European Union (EU) defines the obligations with which industrial and agricultural activities with a high pollution potential must comply. It establishes a procedure for authorising these activities and sets minimum requirements to be included in all permits, particularly in terms of pollutants released. The aim is to prevent or reduce pollution of the atmosphere, water and soil, as well as the quantities of waste arising from industrial and agricultural installations, to ensure a high level of environmental protection.

ACT

Directive 2008/1/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2008 concerning integrated pollution prevention and control.

SUMMARY

This Directive (“the IPPC Directive”) requires industrial and agricultural activities with a high pollution potential to have a permit. This permit can only be issued if certain environmental conditions are met, so that the companies themselves bear responsibility for preventing and reducing any pollution they may cause.

Integrated pollution prevention and control concerns new or existing industrial and agricultural activities with a high pollution potential, as defined in Annex I to the Directive (energy industries, production and processing of metals, mineral industry, chemical industry, waste management, livestock farming, etc.).

Mandatory environmental conditions

In order to receive a permit an industrial or agricultural installation must comply with certain basic obligations. In particular, it must:

  • use all appropriate pollution-prevention measures, namely the best available techniques (which produce the least waste, use less hazardous substances, enable the substances generated to be recovered and recycled, etc.);
  • prevent all large-scale pollution;
  • prevent, recycle or dispose of waste in the least polluting way possible;
  • use energy efficiently;
  • ensure accident prevention and damage limitation;
  • return sites to their original state when the activity is over.

In addition, the decision to issue a permit must contain a number of specific requirements, including:

  • emission limit values for polluting substances (with the exception of greenhouse gases if the emission trading scheme applies - see below);
  • any soil, water and air protection measures required;
  • waste management measures;
  • measures to be taken in exceptional circumstances (leaks, malfunctions, temporary or permanent stoppages, etc.);
  • minimisation of long-distance or transboundary pollution;
  • release monitoring;
  • all other appropriate measures.

In order to coordinate the permit process required under the Directive and the greenhouse gas emission trading scheme, a permit issued in compliance with the Directive is not obliged to contain the emission limit values for greenhouse gases if these gases are subject to an emission trading scheme, provided there is no local pollution problem. The competent authorities can also decide not to impose energy efficiency measures targeted at combustion plants.

Permit applications

All permit applications must be sent to the competent authority of the Member State concerned, which will then decide whether or not to authorise the activity. Applications must include information on the following points:

  • a description of the installation and the nature and scale of its activities as well as its site conditions;
  • the materials, substances and energy used or generated;
  • the sources of emissions from the installation, and the nature and quantities of foreseeable emissions into each medium, as well as their effects on the environment;
  • the proposed technology and other techniques for preventing or reducing emissions from the installation;
  • measures for the prevention and recovery of waste;
  • measures planned to monitor emissions;
  • possible alternative solutions.

Without infringing the rules and practice of commercial and industrial secrecy, this information must be made available to interested parties:

  • the public, using the appropriate means (including electronically) and at the same time as information concerning the procedure for licensing the activity, the contact details of the authority responsible for authorising or rejecting the project and the possibility for the public to take part in the licensing process;
  • the other Member States, if the project is likely to have cross-border effects. Each Member State must submit this information to interested parties in its territory so that they can give their opinion.

Sufficient time must be allowed for all interested parties to react. Their opinions must be taken into account in the licensing procedure.

Administrative and monitoring measures

The decision to license or reject a project, the arguments on which this decision is based and possible measures to reduce the negative impact of the project must be made public and sent to the other Member States concerned. The Member States must, in accordance with their relevant national legislation, make provision for interested parties to challenge this decision in the courts.

The Member States are responsible for inspecting industrial installations and ensuring they comply with the Directive. An exchange of information on best available techniques (serving as a basis for setting emission limit values) is held regularly between the Commission, the Member States and the industries concerned. Reports on the implementation of the Directive are drawn up every three years.

Regulation (EC) No 166/2006, which establishes a European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR), harmonises the rules whereby Member States have to regularly report information on pollutants to the Commission.

Background

Directive 2008/1/EC is replaced by Directive 2010/75/EU on industrial emissions. However, its provisions remain applicable until 6 January 2014.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 2008/1/EC

18.2.2008

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OJ L 24, 29.1.2008

The successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2008/1/EC have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version is for information only.

RELATED ACTS

Report from the Commission of 25 October 2010 on the implementation of Directive 2008/1/EC concerning integrated pollution prevention and control and Directive 1999/13/EC on the limitation of emissions of volatile organic compounds due to the use of organic solvents in certain activities and installations [COM(2010) 593 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Last updated: 13.07.2011
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