New dawn in water pollution control

The Government's new Pollution Prevention and Control Bill to enact the EC directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) could herald a new dawn in water pollution control if, but only if, the emissions standards reflect what technology can achieve.


Public health, quality of life, mainstream industry and the environmental technology industry will all be losers if IPPC embraces old technology.

Although those companies involved in Part A processes in the UK will already be familiar with IPC, the IPPC Directive will also regulate, by 2007 at the latest, noise and vibration, consumption of raw materials (including water), energy efficiency, waste minimisation, prevention of accidents and site protection/restoration. IPPC will also cover more types of processes and will look more widely at the pollution impact of a plant or activity, beginning with the best environmental way of doing a job.

IPPC will cover 6,000 installation in Britain, compared with the 2,200 processes currently subject to IPC. The main additions are approximately 1,000 landfill sites, 1,000 intensive livestock units and 500 food and drink factories – all of which can expect their water discharges to be subjected to much tighter control.

Water emission limits will be based on Best Available Technique (BAT) not BATNEEC. BAT are those that prevent or minimise pollution, can be implemented effectively and are economically and technically viable. In order to help spread BAT across Europe, an information exchange programme is being coordinated in Seville so that Best Available Technology Reference Documents can be published detailing guidance on what is BAT.

The European Commission has offered Europe’s environmental technology industry the chance to participate in the technical working groups. This is a vital step in helping to ensure that polluters cannot simply argue that the latest pollution control technologies are unproven or too expensive.

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