Under the proposals, seven existing pieces of legislation, including the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive, will be merged into a single document to reduce emissions from industrial installations into air, water and soil.

It would strengthen emissions limits, ensure better enforcement in EU member states, and reduce administrative costs for industry.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “Industrial emissions in the European Union remain too high and are having detrimental effects on human health and the environment.

“Clearer and stricter rules are needed to ensure that industrial installations comply with the necessary high environmental standards across the EU.

“The EU must ensure that companies meet their obligations and use the best available techniques.”

The proposed directive would improve and clarify the concept of Best Available Techniques (BATs), tighten minimum emission limits in certain industrial sectors, and introduce minimum standards for environmental inspections of industrial plants.

It is also intended to extend the scope of legislation to cover other polluting activities, such as medium sized combustion plants.

EU chiefs estimate it will save Euro 7bn-28bn a year, and reduce premature deaths by 13,000.

The plans have been welcomed by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), which said the existing legislation had “paved the way for weak and divergent implementation across the EU”.

However, it raised concerns that the Commission may develop proposals for trading emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from industry.

Catherina Ganzleben, the EEB’s policy officer for chemicals and industry policy, said: “EEB opposes any scheme that would lead to trading of local pollutants that damage human health and the environment.”

The proposal is not expected to come into effect for several years, and the Commission intends to put forward recommendations to improve the implementation of the existing legislation in the meantime.

Kate Martin

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