Combustion Processes: UK Legislation
Environmental regulation in the UK is based on a number of Acts of Parliament enacted for the benefit of the UK, together with legislation designed to meet EU environmental requirements.
The Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) was introduced as the main legislation controlling atmospheric emissions and other types of pollution in the UK. It established an integrated system to control pollution from industry, and encompassed many of the diverse requirements of previous pieces of legislation such as the Public Health Acts, the Alkali Act and the Control of Pollution Act. It was also the means by which the UK complied with the EU Directive on Large Combustion Plant.
The EPA introduced a formal system of permits and reviews to ensure acceptable levels of environmental performance for a wide range of industrial processes. For each environmental medium, the EPA defined ‘prescribed' substances, i.e. substances that are potentially harmful and need to be controlled to prevent, or minimise, their discharge into the environment. The Act also introduced the principle of Best Available Techniques Not Entailing Excessive Cost (BATNEEC) as the criterion for regulating the release of these prescribed substances.
The EPA does not apply in Northern Ireland, where pollution control is regulated by the Environment and Heritage Service.
The Environment Act 1995 created a unified Environment Agency (EA) in England and Wales, and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in Scotland.
The Act made provision for a National Air Quality Strategy, under which the Government has set out its policies regarding the assessment and management of air quality. The implementation of EC legislation and international agreements is included within the scope of the strategy. This strategy is required to determine:
- Standards relating to air quality.
- Objectives for restricting the levels at which particular substances are present in the air.
- Measures to be taken by local authorities and other persons for the purposes of achieving these objectives.
The Environment Act 1995 also places a requirement on Local Authorities to carry out air quality reviews.
The Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999 made changes in environmental legislation with effect from 1 November 1999. These changes were initiated by the EU Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC), and the new Act replaced Part 1 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Under this new Act, the Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) Regulations 2000 formed the basis for the new IPPC regime for the UK.
The IPPC directive required operators of regulated plants to use Best Available Techniques (BAT), which is very similar in principle to the BATNEEC defined in earlier UK legislation; the issue of both economic and technical feasibility is contained within both definitions. The Act confirmed the role of the UK's Environment Agencies and Local Authorities as the regulators/enforcers of pollution control for a widened range of commercial and agricultural activities.
The Environmental Permitting Regulations (EPR) came into force on 6 April 2008. These new regulations will make existing legislation more efficient by combining Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) and Waste Management Licensing (WML) regulations.
Following a review of existing European industrial emissions legislation, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Directive on Industrial Emissions on the 21st December 2007. The Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) is a recast of the following seven existing directives into a single clear and coherent directive:
1. Large Combustion Plant Directive Directive (LPC)
2. Integrated Pollution Prevention Control Directive (IPPC)
3. Waste Incineration Directive (WID)
4. Solvents Emissions Directive (SED)
5. Three Titanium Dioxide Directives
The IED aims to remove the ambiguities and uncertainties in the component directives which it replaces but does not change the underlying principles.
The IED was adopted by the European commission on 24th Novemeber 2010 and came into force on the 6th January 2011. Member states must transpose the IED into national legislation by the 6th January 2013. The IED will then be implemented from:
- 6th January 2013 for any new installation from this date onwards
- 6th January 2014 for installations in existence prior to 6th January 2013
- 6th January 2015 for installations not subject to current IPPC
In England and Wales the IED will be implemented though a revision of the EPR. DEFRA has recently undertaken a consultation on the transposition of the IED in England and Wales, the results of which are expected imminently.
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