EU Member States Approve Revision Of Industrial Pollution Control Legislation

BRUSSELS--EU member states Nov. 8 approved legislation that would revise rules for issuing environmental permits to about 52,000 industrial and agricultural sites across the 27-country bloc.

The legislation is designed to reinforce and simplify the European Union’s industrial pollution prevention and control (IPPC) regime and to combine the IPPC Directive (2008/1/EC) and six related directives on waste incineration and sources of industrial pollution.

Under the recast directive, steelmakers, chemical plants, waste incinerators, and other potentially polluting industrial sites will be required by 2016 to use the “best available techniques” (BAT) for pollution control in their sectors. New plants must apply BAT starting in 2012.

Best available techniques for different industries are set out in common European reference documents prepared by the European IPPC Bureau, a technical department of the European Commission located in Seville, Spain.

Under the revised IPPC Directive, certain exemptions from the BAT standards will be permitted for plants where particular local characteristics would make conformity disproportionately expensive.

Facilities that are scheduled to close by the end of 2023 are also exempted from the tighter regulations.

Publication to Follow.

The final step in adopting the legislation will be its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union, which is likely to happen in the next few weeks once the legislative text has been translated into the 23 official EU languages. EU countries then have two years to transpose the directive into their national legal codes.

The EU member states' decision to approve the revised directive was a formality because agreement had already been reached with the European Parliament on the final form of the legislation. The Parliament voted in favor of the agreement July 7 (129 DEN A-1, 7/8/10).

The formal member state decision was made by EU justice ministers meeting in an EU Justice and Home Affairs Council Nov. 8.

The European Commission welcomed the decision, saying the revised legislation would lead to “an expected reduction in premature [pollution-related] deaths of 13,000 per year.”

EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said the updated IPPC regime would “substantially strengthen the current legal framework, further reducing air and other environmental pollution, and become an important driver for eco-innovation.”

As well as introducing the BAT standards, the legislation would tighten emission limits for nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and dust from power plants and some other energy-intensive activities.

By Stephen Gardner

Full text of the revised IPPC Directive adopted by EU member state ministers Nov. 8 is available at