In 2010, the EU Council officially approved the Industrial Emissions Directive. The new EU text is a review of the current Directive on Integral Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC), furthermore recasting another six existing Directives, amongst which are those related to Large Combustion Plants and waste incineration. The Directive will enter into force twenty days after its publication in the official journal (2011).
In spite of the industry’s efforts to uphold the spirit of the former Directive, the EU Parliament managed to introduce, albeit in a less strict manner than was initially planned, the possibility of establishing European-wide sectorial emission ceilings, which would in turn be used for setting emission limit values. In addition, the new Directive provides for the possibility of adopting nationwide emission limit values for CO2. However, one of the sector’s basic achievements was the removal of the consideration that paved the way for the possible trading of emissions for nitrogen and sulphur oxides.
According to the new Directive, the competent authorities may stipulate emission limit values that exceed those associated with Best Available Techniques solely in specific cases, when it is reasonably proven in an annex that the establishment of stricter emission limit values would involve disproportionate costs, compared to the environmental benefits.
The so-called conclusions on Best Available Techniques that will include emission limit values for contaminants by sectors will be approved by implementation acts, which will mean a greater involvement of Member States in comparison to the procedure proposed by the EU Parliament. This was one of the critical aspects for the industry and it had the backing of the Council, which did not want the Commission to wield all the power for the adoption of this chapter of the Best Available Techniques Reference Document (BREF). The timeframe for the review of the terms of authorisation has been set at four years as of the publication of a new BREF.
Regarding soils, all those facilities using significant quantities of hazardous substances are to draw up an initial status report. The Parliament’s aim was that this would be required solely in those Member States without domestic legislation on soils.
Concerning Large Combustion Plants, the industry has finally managed to have some flexibility applied through several mechanisms, amongst which is the domestic drafting of a Transition Plan and the establishment of exemptions for facilities with a limited useful life.
Regarding the implementation of the Directive, insofar as the steel manufacturing sector is concerned, one of the key issues generating concern is the adoption of conclusions on Best Available Techniques according to the BREF. In particular, the European Commission has decided to use the BREF on iron and steel production, reviewed in 2010, to officially adopt the conclusions on Best Available Techniques, following the procedure established in the new Directive. Nonetheless, the sector has made it clear that this document was not drafted for this purpose and so if it is to be used to this end it will have to be first reviewed by the groups of experts in order to give it the appropriate focus.
In 2010, UNESID took part in the meetings held at the European IPPC Bureau by the Technical Working Group charged with the review of the BREF on Iron and Steel Production. The various meetings discussed and established the content of the new draft of the BREF on Iron and Steel Production. Beforehand, UNESID held a meeting with the Ministry of the Environment to convey the sector’s position and its basic concerns in this matter.
The debate at the IPPC Bureau was intense, with UNESID seeking to relay, amongst other matters, the sector’s stance with a view to avoiding highly restrictive values in particles that would currently be hard for the sector to comply with in Spain. Nevertheless, the official values presented by the Member States rendered it impossible to have the reference value raised. A similar approximation was suggested for dioxins, although certain Member States likewise presented values that dismissed the possibility of proposing less restrictive options. This matter becomes especially important given that these values will be used as a reference for the drafting of the conclusions on Best Available Techniques that the Commission plans to officially approve.
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