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Questions and Answers on Implementation of the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive

European Commission - MEMO/07/441   30/10/2007

Other available languages: none

MEMO/07/441

Brussels, 30 October 2007

Questions and Answers on Implementation of the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive

1. What are the objectives of the IPPC Directive?

The Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) was adopted in 1996 and had to be transposed into the national legislation of EU Member States by 30 October 1999.

The aim of this key law on industrial emissions is to achieve a high level of environmental protection through integrated prevention and control of the pollution arising from a wide range of industrial and agricultural activities, such as production of metals, minerals, chemicals, paper, textiles, leather, processed foods, poultry and pig farming, combustion plants, oil refineries, waste management, etc. This will help resolve environmental problems, such as pollution of air and water, climate change, soil contamination and negative impacts of waste and move the EU closer to sustainable patterns of production.

Integrated pollution prevention and control is based on a permit system for installations. The Directive fully considers the subsidiarity principle, so it does not set standards or thresholds for the prevention and control of emissions, or for other environmental aspects, but leaves this responsibility to the Member States.

Member States must ensure that permits for the concerned industrial processes - which installations must obtain and comply with to be allowed to operate - include emission limit values based on Best Available Techniques. The permits do not prescribe the use of any techniques or specific technology, and they can take into account the technical characteristics of the installation concerned, its geographical location and the local environmental conditions. Most Member States have decided to further delegate their obligations under the Directive to regional or local authorities.

In the determination of Best Available Techniques (BAT), the competent authorities that issue permits have to take into account reference documents on BAT (BREFs). BREFs are adopted by the European Commission based on an exchange of technical information on BAT between experts from industry, Member State authorities, research institutes and NGOs. This exchange is coordinated by the IPPC Bureau in Seville (http://eippcb.jrc.es/), which sets up a technical working group for each BREF.

Since 30 October 1999 for the EU-15, and 1 May 2004 for the ten new Member States, the IPPC Directive has applied to new installations as well as to those “existing” installations (i.e. those built before 2000) where the operators intend to carry out changes that may have significant negative effects on human health and the environment. Member States have been given a transitional period until October 2007 to ensure that all other existing installations fully comply with the Directive.

2. What are the key requirements under the IPPC permitting regime?

The permit system aims to ensure that:

  • Operators of installations take preventive measures against pollution, in particular applying Best Available Techniques,
  • No “significant pollution” is caused,
  • Waste that cannot be avoided is recovered or safely disposed of,
  • Energy is used efficiently,
  • Accidents are prevented and their consequences are limited,
  • The site is returned to a satisfactory state when the installation closes.

This integrated, holistic approach should make sure that all the environmental issues that may be relevant for an installation are considered, that priorities are set appropriately and that the costs and advantages of different options are taken into account.

3. Which conditions do existing installations have to meet before and after 2007?

The IPPC Directive states that by 30 October 2007 existing installations must operate in accordance with the requirements of the Directive. It is not sufficient that the competent authority simply issues a permit by 30 October 2007. In order to achieve full compliance with the Directive, the installation must also comply with the permit, which takes time because it often requires an upgrading of the installation. For this reason, both the competent authorities and operators have to take appropriate action at a sufficiently early stage.

After 2007, permits must be updated whenever changes in BAT allow for new measures that significantly reduce emissions bearing in mind the likely costs and benefits. A review of the existing BREFs will indicate to Member States possible changes in BAT.

4 What is the state of implementation of the Directive?

The IPPC directive has been in place for over 10 years and 30 October 2007 is the deadline for issuing permits to existing installations. By mid 2006 approximately 50 per cent of prescribed installations had been permitted under the IPPC Directive. Whilst further progress has been made in the meantime it is evident that efforts so far are not sufficient for all Member States to comply with the Directive deadline in time. This is unacceptable in a situation where further contributions to emission reductions are necessary as indicated in the Commission's Air Thematic Strategy.

The Commission has also carried out a detailed analysis of the quality of the permits issued so far and of the permitting, compliance and enforcement regimes adopted by Member States. Based on a two year process of data collection through an extensive programme of studies (10[1]) and continuous consultation of stakeholders, the Commission has come to the conclusion that the key principles of the current IPPC directive, in particular the integrated approach based on 'Best Available Techniques', remains a sound basis for the future development of EU legislation on industrial emissions.

However, there are important shortcomings in the implementation of the current legislation that hinder the full exploitation of the environmental potential originally intended by the Directive and that render enforcement at Community level very difficult.

5. Pollution from industry has gone down so why does industry need to do more?

The 6th Environmental Action Programme gives a clear obligation to develop a thematic strategy to achieve 'levels of air quality that do not give rise to significant negative impacts on and risks to human health and the environment'. It also reiterates the long term objective contained in the National Emissions Ceilings Directive of 'no exceedence of critical loads and levels for acidification, eutrophication and ground level ozone'. The Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution including clear objectives for the reduction of a number of important air pollutants has been adopted to tackle these issues.

While industrial emissions have been reduced over the past years they continue to have a significant impact on the environment. The largest industrial installations still account for a considerable share of total emissions of key atmospheric pollutants (83% for Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), 34% for Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx), 43% for dust and 55% for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)). They also have other important environmental impacts including emissions to water and soil, generation of waste and the use of energy.

Member States' projected air emissions will greatly exceed the 2020 targets of the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution. All sources of pollution need to contribute to reducing emissions and based on the Commission's assessment achievement of the objectives can only be achieved with the full application of BAT for industrial sources. Consequently the problems of delayed permitting and other shortcomings of the current system need to be tackled.

6. Which measures does the Commission plan to take to improve implementation?

The Commission has identified five key measures to improve the implementation of the current IPPC Directive and will propose a revised directive on industrial emission by the end of the year:

Ensure full transposition of the legislation on industrial emissions

Several Member States have failed to fully transpose the IPPC Directive by the required deadline and the Commission will be requesting information from Member States on the state of their implementation. The Commission will pursue all necessary actions to ensure that the Directive is correctly transposed, including through infringement cases to ensure full and correct transposition of the legislation.

Support Member States in their implementation of the legislation - This will incorporate aspects of enhanced information exchange, guidance development, visits to authorities and training.

Enhanced monitoring and compliance checks of the application of the legislation on industrial emissions - The Commission will continue to monitor the number of IPPC permits issued and updated, and where required investigate the system of monitoring and inspection at IPPC installations.

Improve data collection for review of BREFs and create stronger links with the Research Framework Programme - The review of the BAT Reference Documents[2] will continue based on the agreed work programme and in close cooperation with stakeholders. The Commission will ensure closer links between the BREF elaboration process, the European Research Framework Programme and the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme.

Support Member States in cutting unnecessary administrative burdens - The Commission will organise an information exchange with Member States on the establishment of specific Action Programmes on cutting unnecessary administrative burdens at the Member State level for the permitting and control of IPPC installations.

As well as measures to improve the functioning of the present Directive the Commission will also propose revision of the IPPC Directive on the basis of the problems identified in implementation and the 10 studies[3] undertaken within the context of the Directive review.

7. did the Commission undertake a review of the Directive before the implementation date for existing installations had been reached?

The main priority is the correct implementation of the Directive in its current form. However, it is a good regulatory governance to review, on the basis of implementation experiences, a piece of legislation that was adopted over 10 years ago. The implementation date itself is the crucial point only in relation to legal compliance. However, achieving compliance by that date has required a preparatory phase of more then a couple of years with permits to be issued sufficiently early to allow technical upgradings and changes. This has been done by 50% of the installations and it is here that we have identified the shortcomings that led us to consider a review of the IPPC and related legislation.

In addition, the revision was also one of the key demands from the 2003 stakeholder consultation on the IPPC Directive and the call for Better Regulation.

8. What shortcomings of the current IPPC Directive have been identified by the review process undertaken by the Commission over the past two years?

The Commission has carried out a detailed analysis of the quality of the permits issued so far and of the permitting, compliance and enforcement regimes adopted by Member States. Based on a two year process of data collection through an extensive programme of studies and continuous consultation of stakeholders, the Commission has come to the conclusion that the key principles of the current IPPC directive, in particular the integrated approach based on 'Best Available Techniques', remains a sound basis for the future development of EU legislation on industrial emissions.

However, there are important shortcomings in the implementation of the current legislation that hinder the full exploitation of the environmental potential originally intended by the Directive and that render enforcement at Community level very difficult.

The key issues that have been highlighted are:

  • Insufficient implementation of Best Available Techniques (BAT).
  • Limitations with regard to enforcement and environmental improvements hinder environmental protection and the stimulation of innovation.
  • Unnecessary administrative burdens due to the complexity and incoherence of parts of the current legal framework.
  • Insufficient scope and unclear provisions of the current IPPC Directive that could hinder the achievement of the Thematic Strategies' objectives.
  • Constraint on the use of more flexible instruments such as NOx and SO2 emission trading systems.

Further information on the IPPC Directive is available at:

http://www.ec.europa.eu/environment/ippc/index.htm


[1] http://ec.europa.eu/environment/ippc/ippc_review_process.htm

[2] The permit conditions, including emission limit values (ELV's), used in IPPC permits must be based on 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 results in the adoption and publication by the Commission of BAT Reference Documents (BREFs)

[3] http://ec.europa.eu/environment/ippc/ippc_review_process.htm


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