Fabian Demicoli

The New Industrial Emissions Directive

 Industrial activities are an important part of our economy. However, they also contribute to environmental pollution and to the production of waste and use of energy. Despite a reduction of emissions over the past decades, industrial activities remain a major source of pollutants.

 

In November 2005 the European Commission launched a review of European legislation on industrial emissions, in particular the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive1, which imposes the requirement that industrial and agricultural activities with a high pollution potential, such as energy industries, chemical industries, and waste management operators, should have a permit in order to operate.

The review led to the Commission proposing, on 21 December 2007, a Directive on Industrial Emissions2 which recasts3 seven existing Directives, including the IPPC Directive, related to industrial emissions into a single clear and coherent legislative instrument. This proposal was discussed during a consultation session organised by the Malta-EU Steering and Action Committee (MEUSAC) together with the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) on 5 May 2009 for which relevant stakeholders were invited.

After extensive discussions between the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament, political agreement on the draft proposal was reached in June 2009. During the negotiations Malta and other Member States jointly argued that vulnerable industries could be regulated just as effectively by local environmental permitting systems to ensure similar environmental benefits.

Following further discussions between the Council and the Parliament, a final draft of the proposal was agreed which was subsequently ratified in November 2010. This led to the coming into force of the Industrial Emissions Directive (2010/75/EU)4 on 6 January 2011.

This Directive needs to be transposed into Maltese law by January 2013. The new Directive addresses the needs of both the industry as well as the environment. It sets stricter limits on pollutants emitted by power stations, such as nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and dust, which are responsible for acid rain and smog, and cause respiratory diseases like asthma. In Malta, power plants must comply with these stricter limits by 2020.

During the negotiations Malta argued that the date when new and stricter emissions for power plants would become applicable was a crucial factor, in order to ensure that the public would not suffer from electricity cuts while the necessary technological improvements to power plants were being carried out.

Another consequence of this new Directive is the fact that IPPC permits will be obligatory for certain local installations, especially in the waste management sector such as the recovery of non-hazardous waste and the treatment of waste water from IPPC sites.

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