New pollution legislation will broaden the scope of prevention and control

The new Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) legislation, known in the UK as the Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) rules, will broaden the scope of polution regulation, and will also increase the scope for the public to comment on emissions by companies.

The legislation originates from the 1996 European IPPC Directive which is currently being implemented by Member States, and replaces the UK’s former Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) regulations. The new rules cover emissions to all three media, air, water and land, will effect all facilities covered by the PPC regulations, but will also cover other groups, such as intensive animal farming and food and drink manufacture. The onus for implementation will be on companies, who are expected to know when they need to make an application for regulation under the IPPC regulations.

There are also a number of changes to definitions under the new law. Installations are now covered, rather than processes, which means that one facility, which may have a number of polluting processes, needs only to have a single permit. The term pollution now includes heat, vibration and noise, with ‘permits’ replacing ‘licenses’, ‘consents’ and ‘authorities’.

Information on IPPC applications will be held on a public register at the Environment Agency’s offices, which will also contain details on monitoring, and should be available electronically in the next five years or so. There will be an emphasis on self-monitoring by companies, with checks carried out by the Agency, as well as monitoring of the surrounding environment, and audits of companies monitoring arrangements.

The Environment Agency plans to bring in a number of standards for pollution prevention and control over the next few years, including for manual stack testing, portable stack testing equipment, water monitoring, contaminated land analysis, data handling, and operators’ monitoring techniques. Regulations are also due to be standardised with the German system, which is intended to prevent the UK standards from becoming a barrier to trade.

The Environment Agency’s monitoring programme (MCERTS) will bring in additional costs to a number of companies, particularly those who have not been overly concerned with emissions controls in the past. “It will be onerous on people who ae not doing a good job – cutting corners,” said John Tipping of the National Compliance Assessment Service at the Environment Agency. “It could put them out of business.”

More information on both the PPC regulations and on MCERTS are available from the Environment Agency website, including sector-specific guidance and application forms.

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