Emissions from a wide range of industrial activities are regulated mainly through a framework currently set out in the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 (“EPR”). Details of EPR can be found on the Environmental Permitting page.
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Key facts and figures
Larger industrial installations (some 3,500) are subject to integrated controls upon all likely significant emissions. As well as requirements relating to resource efficiency, accidental emissions and installation site restoration. Most are regulated by the Environment Agency and are often referred to as “Part A(1)” activities. Local authorities regulate some 400, these are often referred to as “Part A(2)” activities.
Smaller installations, some 19,000, are subject to controls on emissions to air and are regulated by more than 300 local authorities in England. These activities are often referred to as “Part B”.
Regulators’ costs are met through annual charges for the permits which each regulated installation must have in order to operate legally. The charging schemes are approved annually by Ministers.
The background and current situation
Legislative controls on pollutant emissions from industry in the UK originated in the mid 19th century. The Environment Protection Act 1990 was the immediate forerunner of the current framework, consolidating controls on emissions to air from generally smaller installations and introducing integrated pollution control for the larger installations with generally greater pollution potential. The system of integrated pollution control was largely embodied in the 1996 IPPC Directive.
The current framework has within its foundations the concept of “best available techniques” (BAT) for dealing with potential pollution. Under this, the conditions in each installation’s permit have to be based upon the application of BAT relevant to the industry sector concerned. Voluminous European guidance on BAT is available (the “BREFs”), although decisions on what are BAT and the resulting permit conditions are for each regulator to take.
The proposed Directive on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) (recast) may enter force around the end of 2010 and will combine the IPPC and related Directives into one. BAT requirements will become more emphasised and some activities will become newly subject to IPPC, but the framework of the current Directives as implemented within the UK will otherwise remain mostly unchanged.
Relevant legislation and regulations
- Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 Unofficial Consolidation
- Directives relating to petrol vapour recovery (PVR I – 1994/63/EC and PVR II – 2009/126/EC
- Directive on the limitation of emissions of volatile organic compounds due to the use of organic solvents in certain activities and installations (1999/13/EC)
- The integrated pollution prevention and control Directive (2008/1/EC) (PDF 110 KB) – first adopted in 1996, it (the “IPPC Directive”) applies to a wide range of industrial activities.
- The Waste Incineration Directive (2000/76/EC) – applies to installations of any size in which waste is incinerated or co-incinerated in a technical unit
- The Large Combustion Plants Directive ( 2001/80/EC) – applies only to combustion plants with a rated thermal input of 50 MW or more
- Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 (PDF 745 KB) – provide the framework through which permits are applied for, issued and enforced. They embody the requirements of the Directives listed above.
- European Regulation 166/2006 concerning the establishment of a European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PDF 140 KB) – is directly binding on operators of installations subject to the IPPC Directive and requires them to report pollutant emissions above specified thresholds for inclusion on the Register.
- The Paints Directive (2004/42/CE) (PDF 140 KB) aims to reduce emissions of volatile organic solvents (VOCs) from paints.
- The Volatile Organic Compounds in Paints, Varnishes and Vehicle Refinishing Products Regulations 2005 implementing the Paints Directive.
- Directive relating to a reduction in the sulphur content of certain liquid fuels (1999/32/EC) (PDF 30 KB)
Key publications and documents
- Environmental Permitting guidance – comprehensive, including guidance in relation to specific Directives
- Environment Agency guidance – for Part A(1) activities
- Process Guidance Notes – for Part B activities
- Sector Guidance Notes – for Part A(2) activities
- General guidance for local authorities – A(2) and Part B
- Air Quality (AQ) Notes – additional guidance notes
- Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR)
- BAT Reference documents (“BREFs”) – published by the European Commission