Revising IPPC: Incremental Change Rather than a Radical Overhaul of EU Industrial Emissions Policy


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Abstract: The European Commission has published a proposal to revise the IPPC Directive (1996/61, codified as 2008/1). The proposal also incorporates six 'sectoral' industrial emissions Directives as annexes: large combustion plants (2001/80); waste incineration (2000/76); solvent emissions (1999/13); and titanium dioxide (78/176, 82/883 and 92/112). The proposal would only extend the scope of the Directive in a limited way (for example, to combustion installations between 20 and 50 MW, the preservation of wood and wood products and the production of wood panels), but it introduces more formal requirements for permitting, reference to BREFs, operator monitoring and inspection. The provisions for the sectoral Directives are largely unchanged with the major exception of large combustion plants and titanium dioxide plants, for which stricter minimum emission limits are proposed. This paper examines the proposal and considers the changes made, commenting on the reasons for them.


The 1996 integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) Directive1 has proven a major challenge for the Member States to implement.2 However, the integrated approach promoted by the IPPC Directive is a more effective mechanism to tackle industrial environmental impacts than more traditional single media approaches.3

Approximately 52,000 installations (2006 estimate) across the 27 Member States fall within the scope of the Directive, and by mid 2006 approximately 50 per cent of these installations had been issued permits under the Directive.4 Although the deadline for full implementation of the Directive was on 30 October 2007, the European Commission initiated a series of reviews of IPPC and related Directives much earlier and these concluded with a proposal in December 2007 for a revision to IPPC and six other Directives regulating industrial installations, recasting them into a single Directive.5 These Directives are those covering:

  • integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC);
  • solvent emissions;6
  • waste incineration;7
  • large combustion plants;8 and
  • titanium dioxide.9

The Commission launched the review process of the IPPC Directive and related legislation on industrial emissions at the end of 2005. The review evaluated the scope and details of the Directive in order to improve its functioning, its coherence and complementarity with other industrial emissions-related legislation and the effectiveness of market-based instruments in this area. The need for greater clarity in the requirements of the IPPC Directive and for coherence with other relevant EU laws was also identified in a number of other contexts.10

As work on the review progressed, in April 2007 the European Commission launched a consultation on the review of IPPC. In the consultation the Commission indicated that it was minded to integrate IPPC with the sectoral industrial emission Directives in order to provide a 'clear, coherent and simplified legal framework'. It also considered the option of making the conclusions on best available techniques (BAT) recommended in BAT Reference Documents (BREFs) binding and introducing minimum rules for inspection. The consultation also discussed the possibility of allowing Member States to develop emission trading schemes to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) from industrial plants instead of using BAT-based permits. As will be seen, many, but not all, of these ideas were incorporated into the recast proposal.

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