The Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) consolidates seven existing EU Directives, including the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive, the Solvents Directive, the Large Combustion Plants Directive, and the Waste Incineration Directive into a single legislative instrument. The Industrial Emissions Directive streamlines the system and imposes stricter limits in some instances, and will need to be transposed in Ireland by 2012. From 7 January 2013, the IED will apply to all new installations. By 7 January 2014, it will apply to all existing installations, meaning that existing IPPC Licences may need to be reviewed to ensure that they are in compliance with the IED. Where there are new activities included, for example, with wood preservation and shredding, these must be in compliance by 7 January 2015. The IED has streamlined the existing legislation, reduced thresholds in some instances and introduced some new provisions, some of which are highlighted below.
The role of the competent authority, (in Ireland, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)), in respect of licensing and enforcement is set out in greater detail than before. “Inspection” is defined wider than previously. Member States must 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. If an inspection has identified an important case of non-compliance, an additional site visit must be carried out within 6 months of that inspection. In addition, Article 8 states that operators must immediately inform a competent authority (i.e. the EPA) of a breach of the permit conditions. This is very broad, and goes further than the current notification requirements.
In general, permit conditions must be based on Best Available Techniques (BAT). BAT conclusions, which are documents containing information on the emission levels associated with the best available techniques, are to form the reference point for conditions. The IED allows some flexibility in that licensing authorities may set less strict emission limit values in specific cases, where an assessment shows that achieving the emission limit values in the BAT conclusions would lead to disproportionately higher costs compared to the environmental benefits.
Also of note is that Article 22, relating to site closure, requires baseline reports to be prepared prior to the operation of an installation or on the first permit review after 7 January 2013. The IED sets out some basic information as to what such report should contain, but no detailed guidelines have been issued by the EU Commission. It remains to be seen whether the requirement for a baseline report will result in any practical changes, given that in many cases, environmental reports are already prepared in the context of a licence review or application.