IPPC: in the pipeline

As the fourth consultation on UK implementation of the European Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive gets underway, IEM, in the third and final in the series, presents a cross section of industry opinion on practical implications of IPPC.

Julie Hesketh, Senior Policy Adviser

CBI Environment Group

”Overall, industry response to the new IPPC Directive has been positive. British business concurs that IPPC represents a chance to introduce more efficient, flexible and clearer regulation. This was reflected in the CBI’s support for the PPC Bill which recently received Royal Assent.

The introduction of IPPC offers major opportunities for the pollution abatement technologies and services sector which will no doubt exploit the new market. This market will be opened by providing cost-effective technologies to meet the requirements of sectors such as food and drink or landfill businesses facing an integrated approach for the first time.

A key feature of making IPPC work will be in the relationship between industries discharging to the environment and the regulators – the Environment Agency and Local Authorities. In England and Wales, responsibilities for regulating IPPC processes will be split between the Environment Agency and Local Authorities, which will keep control of the activities that they authorised under Local Authority Air Pollution Control. Consistency in approach of the various regulators will be crucial for many firms; inconsistency may lead to time delays in issuing correct authorisations.

The IPPC Directive will fully apply across the whole of the EU from 2007.

Implementation of the Directive is, however, being handled differently from Member State to Member State. Indications are that the UK will phase in implementation sector by sector. This has the possibility of upsetting the level playing field that the Directive aims to create if IPPC does not “go live” in other Member States until the last possible moment, October 2007. The competitiveness of British business could be put at risk unless implementation of the Directive is undertaken consistently across the EU.”

David Gillett

The Paper Federation of Great Britain

”The simple fact is that almost every aspect of environmental debate is relevant in the paper industry to some extent. Unfortunately, the facts often conflict with perception and the priorities some consider as needing to be tackled do not stack up against the facts of risk. This we all have to learn to live with in the now higher profile world of industry in society.

The paper industry believed the Integrated Pollution Control scheme (IPC) to be the logical way of dealing with pollution risk. The approach of identifying risks within the site “bubble” was appealing to mills with one combustion process and a manufacturing process. Setting priorities in these circumstances related directly to the way investment programmes were implemented and businesses run. The principle became confused when the site approach ran into the legal problem of complying with single issue EU Directives of equal importance in law, but it was still a sensible step forward.

Now the industry looks to the IPPC Directive and the Pollution Prevention Control Act, and so energy efficiency and waste minimisation have to be considered. For energy intensive industry, efficiency would seem to be a major factor, assuming we can agree how it is defined. The significant cost of energy on the balance sheet, however, would suggest the need for little legal pressure, but will regulators have the same priorities? Now, of course, there is another complication as the Climate Levy looms. However named, it is no more than an energy tax which will cost this industry at least £60m with a return of some £2.5m through Nationla Insurance contributions (NIC) reductions. We are moving to a negotiated agreement under the Treasury/DETR provisions, but this is a political debate with moving goalposts. In an IPPC context, who defines BAT for the Levy and will this be the same as that under IPPC? The DETR Fourth Consultation Document leaves this unresolved.

Waste minimisation poses other questions for an industry with a major recycling emphasis. Separating fibres from the other (unwanted) materials brought in as waste paper leaves the mill with substantial residues – possibly 30% of incoming tonnages – other people’s rubbish in effect. This adds to mill costs for disposal and poses conundrums for regulators. Increasing recycling, which is Government policy, leaves mills with greater waste disposal problems – 1.5m tonnes per annum and rising. Nobody wants to landfill to this extent, so what’s the answer? These tonnages need market solutions. New, small volume products are not the answer.

So, despite the UK experience with IPC, the extension of that scheme under the EU measure still leaves uncertainty. In addition, of course, the Scottish Executive and Welsh Assembly are able to exercise their own powers. How soon will industries and processes be brought under IPPC and will these be to the same timescales across the UK? In the wider European scene, what timescales can we expect other Member States to be planning? All we know is that whilst we were in the last batch of processes brought into IPC, this time we are first; perhaps the very first. How many of our competitor industries in Europe will be brought in with such enthusiasm rather than much closer to the 2007 limit? Environmental improvement is an objective for all, but at what risk?”

Jackie Dowthwaite

The Food and Drink Federation

”The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) is concerned that UK Government legislation implementing the EU IPPC Directive is both appropriate and proportionate to the food and drink sector’s generally low pollution potential which comprises relatively harmless emissions to one medium alone – trade effluent to water. In fact, in the majority of cases, this is indirect discharge via sewer. We are currently in close discussion with the Environment Agency about the need to develop sector guidance for the industry consistent with this position. Our overall preference is for this guidance to be drawn up on a unit operation (for example, washing, cooling etc), rather than on a food product sector basis.

Currently, food and drink processing is not a prescribed process under the IPC regime, so it is important that the implementation of the IPPC Directive does not lead to over-regulation of the industry which would be unnecessarily burdensome and costly. FDF does not want to see the food and drink sector being unfairly branded a ‘heavy polluter’. The food industry, along with other industry sectors covered by IPPC, is currently participating in permitting trials organised by the Agency. This work is intended to include an investigation of the potential for introducing a streamlined permit application procedure for installations in the food and drink sector.

The Food and Drink Federation is currently studying the Government’s proposals for a charging scheme for the new IPPC regime, in the context of the recently published fourth DETR consultation paper on IPPC implementation. It is vital that any application of IPPC to the food and drink industry is at minimum cost – particularly as the industry is already facing potential costs in the order of £150m under the Government’s Climate Change Levy.”

Dr Peter Cooper

British Apparel and Textile Confederation

”One of the criteria for inclusion is a weekly production figure for dyehouses, and we are currently negotiating – discussing – with the EA just how that trigger point is defined. Is it installed capacity, productive capacity or used capacity?

Sometimes you know that you have to work with a degree of standing plant. We have to invest that way because of the nature of the textile trade, and so we are not happy with the use of productive capacity as a trigger point – it just doesn’t make sense in our industry.”

David James

Surface Engineering Association

”By now I think most of us are aware that the IPPC Directive becomes law on or after 30 October 1999.

Despite the cacophony of comment emanating from inside and outside our industry, the SEA is the only industry-focused body that is speaking to those that effect the legislation as well as those it affects. Consequently, a new SEA task force has been established to develop the best way forward in dealing with the Government and its agencies.

Surface engineers, especially those with electroplating, anodising, pickling and phosphating practices, have to face a number of key issues, of which three are fundamental: understanding what IPPC means; how the IPPC permits-to-operate will be regulated; and what we have to do to meet the legal and regulatory mechanisms this legislation demands.

Despite some strident voices within the industry, the best way forward is not thumping the table in frustration, but developing a working relationship with the legislators and regulators – benefiting rather than threatening our members’ businesses.

So where are we at now? Shortly we will have to respond to the DETR’s Fourth Consultation Document on IPPC. We have determined two important points: the definition of a “treatment” tank that includes rinse tanks (therefore the 30m3 exemption limit will now apply to most of the tanks in a processing line); and there appears to be an opportunity where we can work towards developing an industry permit rather than an individual permit per company.

Regulators of IPPC will be the Environment Agency. I think it’s become fairly obvious that there will be an enforcement problem concerning the capability of

the EA to carry out their task. Perhaps I’m being a little cynical by saying that the initial 30m3 exemption was proposed to lighten the regulators’ task by “exempting” the majority of the aqueous processing companies. Subsequent discussions

with the Agency have caused alarm within their ranks when it became clear that this exemption includes, rather than excludes, a significant proportion of companies.

Recent consultation with MFA members produced a very interesting response. Most (85%+) are willing to be regulated, providing everyone is, confirming the importance of the ‘level playing field’.

There remains, however, the issue of how we manage the changes that IPPC legislation will bring. Although after 30 October 1999 no permits for new or substantially changed installations can be issued until the Best Available Technique (BREF) document has been written, the Technical Working Group (TWG) designated to prepare it will not meet until the year 2001 (2002 until the work is finished). So how do these installations get a permit?

That the regulators might assume the responsibility of getting their ‘experts’ to write the BREF fills me with fear and trepidation, so we must seize the initiative now and prepare it in-house (with the support of the EA).

At this stage IPPC raises more questions than it answers, but if we don’t come up with both parts of the sum the ‘experts’ will start producing their own unworkable formula.”

Dr Ed Komorowski

Dairy Industry Federation

”Under the given thresholds, IPPC is immediately only going to catch a handful of brand new dairies in the UK, and another 80-90 by 2004, although there remains some difficulty in knowing immediate practical implications, given that there exists some doubt as to whether the regulations will in fact be implemented in October.

My advice for companies with plans for a new dairy, or for substantial changes to an existing one, is to contact the EA, if only to ensure a show of willingness. It is far from clear even what a ‘substantial change’ is: it may not be a substantial change in production volumes, because it could be argued that a site’s environmental impacts do not alter within certain productive parameters. And IPPC should not penalise development that has recently taken place.”

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