Industrial production processes account for a considerable share of the overall pollution in Europe due to their emissions of air pollutants, discharges of waste water and the generation of waste. Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and the Council on industrial emissions is the main EU instrument regulating pollutant emissions from industrial installations. The IED was adopted on 24 November 2010. The Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) is a result of extensive discussions among Member States, the European Commission and the European Parliament. Its purpose is to incorporate the obligations of the following seven Directives into one:
- Integrated Pollution Prevention & Control (IPPC) Directive;
- Large Combustion Plants Directive;
- Waste Incineration Directive;
- Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Solvents Directive;
- Three Directives regarding Titanium Dioxide.
The above chapters of the IED are transposed on a national level through 6 Subsidiary legislations as follows:
- Industrial Emissions (Framework) Regulations
- Industrial Emissions (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) Regulations
- Industrial Emissions (Large Combustion Plants) Regulations
- Industrial Emissions (Limitation of Emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds) Regulations
- Industrial Emissions (Titanium Dioxide) Regulations
- Industrial Emissions (Waste Incineration) Regulations
The IED aims to achieve a high level of protection of human health and the environment taken as a whole by reducing harmful industrial emissions across the EU, in particular through better application of Best Available Techniques (BAT). Around 50,000 installations undertaking the industrial activities listed in Annex I of the IED are required to operate in accordance with a permit (granted by the authorities in the Member States). This permit should contain conditions set in accordance with the principles and provisions of the IED. The IED is based on several pillars, in particular (1) an integrated approach, (2) use of best available techniques, (3) flexibility, (4) inspections and (5) public participation.
- The integrated approach means that the permits must take into account the whole environmental performance of the plant, covering e.g. emissions to air, water and land, generation of waste, use of raw materials, energy efficiency, noise, prevention of accidents, and restoration of the site upon closure.
- The permit conditions including emission limit values must be based on the Best Available Techniques (BAT). In order to define BAT and the BAT-associated environmental performance at EU level, the Commission organises an exchange of information with experts from Member States, industry and environmental organisations. This work is co-ordinated by the European IPPC Bureau at the EU Joint Research Centre in Seville (Spain). This process results in BAT Reference Documents (BREFs); the BAT conclusions contained are adopted by the Commission as Implementing Decisions. The IED requires that these BAT conclusions are the reference for setting permit conditions. For certain activities, i.e. large combustion plants, waste incineration and co-incineration plants, solvent using activities and titanium dioxide production, the IED also sets EU wide emission limit values for selected pollutants.
- The IED allows competent authorities some flexibility to set less strict emission limit values. This is possible only in specific cases where an assessment shows that achieving the emission levels associated with BAT described in the BAT conclusions would lead to disproportionately higher costs compared to the environmental benefits due to the geographical location or the local environmental conditions or the technical characteristics of the installation. The competent authority shall always document its justification for granting such derogations. Furthermore, Chapter III of the IED on large combustion plants includes certain flexibility instruments (Transitional National Plan, limited lifetime derogation, etc.)
- The IED contains mandatory requirements on environmental inspections. Member States shall set up a system of environmental inspections and draw up inspection plans accordingly. The IED requires a site visit to take place at least every 1 to 3 years, using risk-based criteria.
- The IED ensures that the public has a right to participate in the decision-making process, and to be informed of its consequences, by having access to permit applications, permits and the results of the monitoring of releases.