MEPs seek to strengthen industrial pollution control

The European Parliament’s environment committee agreed on Tuesday to restrict derogations from implementing best available techniques (BAT) to control industrial pollution.

Negotiations with ministers on the proposed Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) will begin in the coming weeks. The full parliament is due to vote on the finalised directive in July.

The committee concluded that operators should only be able to avoid BAT where a plant’s location or the local environmental situation justifies it. Operators would also need to show that BAT cannot be applied for technical reasons, and would be too costly. Derogations should also not be granted if they would cause significant environmental harm.

Green NGOs were alarmed that earlier drafts would have permitted derogations purely due to cost.

The committee’s amendments would also allow member states to set CO2 emission limit standards for power stations. This could bring a halt in some countries to plans to build new fossil-fuel plants without carbon capture and storage. Energy industry group Eurelectric criticised the move, which could conflict with the EU emissions trading scheme.

The committee also endorsed minimum emission limit values for more polluting industries, and for those where BAT has not been properly applied.

The IED will replace the 1996 Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control, plus EU legislation on solvent emissions, waste incineration and the production of titanium dioxide. But the most controversial aspect concerns the revision of rules on emissions from large combustion plants (LCPs).

MEPs want to extend the deadline for certain LCPs to meet emission limits for nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide from 2015 to June 2019. Ministers are seeking a December 2020 deadline, whereas business group the CBI argues that another year is needed. Plants that do not meet the limits will be forced to close.

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