Last reviewed 31 October 2012

Paul Clarke reports on the Industrial Emissions Directive (2010/75/EU), which will be brought in to control industrial pollution.

New rules to tackle industrial emissions

Industrial production processes account for a considerable share of overall pollution in Europe. In order to help reduce emissions from such installations, the European Commission put forward a plan in December 2007 to bring together and improve seven existing pieces of legislation. The aim was to achieve significant benefits to the environment and human health by reducing harmful industrial emissions across the EU, in particular through better application of Best Available Techniques (BATs). The result was Directive 2010/75/EU, known as the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) and due to come into effect by 6 January 2013. Available in the Official Journal of the EU, this directive lays down rules on integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) associated with industrial activities and particularly with large combustion plants (LCPs). These rules are designed to prevent or reduce emissions into air, water and land as well as the generation of waste.

The IED incorporates provisions set out in, and repeals, the following legislation.

  • Directive 78/176/EEC on waste from the titanium dioxide industry.

  • Directive 82/883/EEC on procedures for the surveillance and monitoring of environments concerned by waste from the titanium dioxide industry.

  • Directive 92/112/EEC on procedures for harmonising the programmes for the reduction and eventual elimination of pollution caused by waste from the titanium dioxide industry.

  • Directive 2004/42/EC on the limitation of emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) due to the use of organic solvents in certain activities and installations.

  • Directive 2000/76/EC on the incineration of waste.

  • Directive 2001/80/EC on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from LCPs.

  • Directive 2008/1/EC (the IPPC Directive).

These all cease to have effect on 7 January 2014 with the exception of Directive 2001/80/EC, which will be repealed from 1 January 2016.

The Industrial Emissions Directive

Directive 2010/75/EU focuses on limiting air pollutants, including sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and dust emissions, which are responsible for environmental damage (such as acid rain) and damage to human health. It requires a site visit to take place at least every one to three years, using risk-based criteria, and does not apply to research activities, development activities or to the testing of new products and processes. It includes:

  • the method for adopting BAT conclusions and the flexibility granted to competent authorities to deviate from such conclusions in setting emission limit values

  • the provision of temporary flexibilities to the LCP sector for compliance with the revised emission limit values applicable to such plants, and

  • a mechanism to allow the Commission to propose new minimum requirements, including emission limit values for activities based on the environmental impact and state of implementation of BATs.

Operators of industrial installations operating activities covered by Annex I of the IED are required to obtain an integrated permit from the authorities in the Member States. The IED allows the licensing authorities to set less strict emission limit values in specific cases. Such measures are only applicable where an assessment shows that the achievement of emission levels associated with BATs would lead to disproportionately higher costs compared to the environmental benefits due to geographical location, local environmental conditions or the technical characteristics of the installation.

Transposition in England and Wales

In a consultation running until 6 June 2012, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Welsh Assembly Government sought views on the transposition of the IED. They noted that all the directives being replaced by the new legislation are currently transposed through the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 and have accordingly proposed to amend those regulations. Details of the consultation, and of various useful guidance documents, can be found on the Defra website.