Water standards for toxics threaten companies' IPC permits

Companies applying for integrated pollution control (IPC) authorisations may find themselves in difficulty when existing advisory limits on toxic substances in surface waters are shortly given statutory force. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 bars HM Inspectorate of Pollution (HMIP) from issuing an authorisation if these environmental quality standards (EQSs) are breached.

EQSs are a central plank of UK policy for protecting the water environment from toxic chemicals such as those on the EC's black and grey lists and the UK's own "red list".

Under section 28(3) of the 1990 Act, HMIP must not authorise a process under IPC if the National Rivers Authority (NRA) certifies that it "will result in or contribute to" a breach of a statutory water quality standard. The section means that dischargers in this positio

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