How are your operations affected by the Industrial Emissions Directive?

27 April 2015

The Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) applies to a wide range of industrial installations across the European Union (mainly those covered by the former IPPC Directive) as well as large combustion plants, waste incineration plants, activities using organic solvents, and installations that produce titanium dioxide. The requirements of the IED can have significant impacts on site operations and major expenditure may be necessary to upgrade existing plant to meet new guidance and comply with new emission limits. It is therefore important for operators to understand how they could be impacted by the IED and ensure they have robust plans in place to achieve compliance.

The IED was published in the Official EU Journal in December 2010, and required transposition into national law by each Member State no later than 6 January 2013. With the exception of large combustion plants, implementation of IED at existing facilities was required by 6 January 2014, and by 6 July 2015 for industrial activities not previously subject to the IPPC Directive, but covered under IED. For existing large combustion plants (in existence before 6 January 2013), implementation of IED begins from 1 January 2016. 

Establishment and legal adoption of ‘BAT Conclusions’
The IED introduces the establishment and legal adoption of ‘BAT Conclusions’. Regulators must set permit conditions to achieve a high level of protection for the environment as a whole, based on the use of the best available techniques (BAT), which balance the costs to the operator against the benefits to the environment. The BAT Conclusions set out what BAT should be for a particular sector and provide BAT Associated Emission Levels (BAT-AELs). Regulatory authorities in each Member State must use these Conclusions as the basis for setting or revising permit conditions including Emission Limit Values (ELVs). The IED makes it very difficult to deviate from the BAT Conclusions.

Once the new BAT Conclusions have been published, operators will typically have 4 years from this date to meet any new requirements, and Regulators are required to update an installation’s permit within 4 years of the BAT Conclusion document being published.

In order to identify the BAT Conclusions for each type of installation, technical experts from across the EU have been updating a series of BAT reference documents, known as BREFs. A total of 35 BREFs will need to be reviewed or written to cover all of the activities encompassed by the IED. There is uncertainty in terms of the timescale for the BREFs, and only seven of the 35 required BREFs have been updated so far. A summary of the programme of updating BREF documents for selected chemical sector operations is provided below:

The BAT Conclusions for the Chlor-alkali and Refining sectors were published in 2013 and 2014 respectively, and have major implications for ERM’s clients in these sectors, triggering significant upgrade requirements for some existing plant as well as requiring the phase-out of certain technologies.

Soil and Groundwater Quality
For the majority of IED installations, there will also be a requirement to establish a quantified soil and groundwater baseline, and if the existing baseline does not meet IED requirements then this may need to be updated at the next permit review (typically within the next 4 years). The IED also requires ongoing periodic monitoring of both soil and groundwater quality.

For some sectors such as oil and gas refining and chlor-alkali production where BAT Conclusions have already been published, operators can expect to make potentially significant investment, with permit reviews and new requirements implemented within the next 4 years. For other sectors, operators will benefit from following the process of updating BAT Conclusions for their sectors, and providing input as these documents are prepared (either through sector organisations or directly). As draft BAT conclusions become available, it will be advantageous for operators to review the implications of these measures at their facilities and start planning for any required investment.

Want to know more?

To find out more about how your operations may affected by the Industrial Emissions Directive, please contact Paul Jackson, Principal Consultant at ERM.   

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