While members states have not broken the letter of the law – they still have two years to ensure all factories, power stations and agri-business comply with the 1996 Integrated Pollution Prevention Control (IPPC) Directive – there are rumblings from the upper echelons of the EC that its patience is wearing thin.

The wide-ranging law aims to regulate and limit harmful emissions to air, water and land from major industrial operations.

But according to a report just published that looks at progress made, the delays in issuing the necessary permits means that the environmental improvements foreseen by the directive will fail to materialise.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “Nine years after the adoption of this major piece of legislation and two years before the deadline for its full application, many installations do not yet comply with the conditions set out.

“This may cause significant environmental damage.

“I hope that the Commission’s new Implementation Action Plan will help, but the Member States clearly have to make stronger efforts to issue the necessary permits.”

The report looked at some 45,000 installations that fell under the scope of the Directive and found there had been considerable delays in implementing the legislation in most countries and infringement procedures are ongoing against eight Member States due to incorrect transposition.

The EC now plans to launch an IPPC Implementation Action Plan to speed up the process and ensure members meet the October 2007 deadline for full compliance with the Directive.

By Sam Bond

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