Legislation: The Eu Directive On Industrial Emissions: Squaring The Circle of Integrated, Harmonised and Ambitious Technology Standards?

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Keywords: Integrated pollution control, technology standards, emissions trading, h|ar-monisation, information exchange, comitology

The EU Directive on Industrial Emissions1 reforms the twice amended, consolidated EU Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control.2 This legislation note critiques key provisions of the new Directive, and comments on whether its main purposes - including the ensuring of greater integration, harmonisation and effectiveness of pollution controls - are likely to be achieved. It suggests that, while some progress has been made, various opportunities to legislate for more integrated, harmonised and ambitious technology standards were missed in the reform of the EU regime of integrated pollution prevention and control.

The Directive on Industrial Emissions seeks to implement a holistic, integrated approach to pollution control for a range of major industrial activities.3 It requires Member States to designate competent authorities responsible for permitting installations that must be operated in accordance with the technology standard of 'the best available techniques' (BAT). In conjunction with the Water Framework Directive,4 this constitutes the core of EU pollution control. The European Commission published a proposal for the Directive on Industrial Emissions in December 2007,5 which was revised and finally adopted on November 2010,6 despite the fact that EU industry had simply favoured a better enforcement of the existing IPPC Directive (2008/1/EC). It came into force on 6 January 2011 and most of its provisions must be implemented by 7 January 2013.7 The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), together with the Environment Agency and the Welsh Assembly Government, will start a consultation exercise on draft regulations for England and Wales transposing the Directive early in 2012.

REASONS FOR REFORMING THE PREVIOUS INTEGRATED POLLUTION PREVENTION AND CONTROL DIRECTIVES

The Directive seeks to address some of the shortcomings, identified in implementation reports commissioned by the European Commission, of the previous Directives on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control.8 A potentially conflicting set of environmental and economic shortcomings have been identified, with the revised Directive expected to deliver both cost savings and more stringent environmental controls.9 The Commission has been concerned about the variation in implementation between Member States. For instance, some Member States have taken into account definitions of BAT as set out in the legally non-binding EU-wide 'Best Available Techniques' Reference (BREF) Documents, whilst others have employed less stringent technology standards.10 This variation among Member States distorts competition for operators of industrial installations. Actual reductions in the emission of pollutants from IPPC installations have been insufficient to meet the targets of the EU Thematic Strategies on Air Pollution,'1 Soil Protection12 and the Prevention and Recycling of Waste.13 The Commission saw that there was potential to further streamline and simplify EU pollution control as part of its 'Better Regulation' agenda. It seeks to reduce the costs of implementing the Directive, both for Member State administrations ,4 and regulated operators.

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