The European Union’s Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) (2010/75/EU) requires the following categories of activity to operate in accordance with a permit:
- energy industries (in particular power plants);
- production and processing of metals;
- the mineral industry (including the production of cement and asbestos and manufacturing glass);
- production of organic and inorganic chemicals;
- waste management (ie, the disposal and recovery of waste); and
- other activities, including the production of pulp, paper and cardboard, pre-treatment and dyeing of textiles, tanning of hides and skins, disposal or recycling of animal carcasses, and intensive rearing of poultry or pigs.
A detailed list of activities falling within each of these categories may be found in Annex I of the IED.
Which authority issues permits?
Competent authorities designated by the EU member states are responsible for issuing permits (Article 5 of the IED).
The procedural and documentary requirements to obtain a permit
Article 12 of the IED requires operators to provide a description of the following when applying for a permit:
- the installation and its activities;
- the raw and auxiliary materials, other substances and the energy used in or generated by the installation;
- the sources of emissions from the installation;
- the conditions of the site of the installation;
- where applicable, a state of soil and groundwater contamination baseline report;
- the nature and quantities of foreseeable emissions from the installation into each medium, as well as identification of significant effects of the emissions on the environment;
- the proposed technology and other techniques for preventing or, where this is not possible, reducing emissions from the installation;
- measures for the prevention, preparation for re-use, recycling and recovery of waste generated by the installation;
- any other measures planned to prevent pollution, waste, inefficient energy use, accidents (and to limit their consequences);
- measures planned to monitor emissions into the environment; and
- the main alternatives to the proposed technology, techniques and measures studied by the applicant.
The permit application must also include a non-technical summary of the above.
Validity period and renewal
The validity period for permits and how they can be renewed
The IED does not specify a validity period for permits. Instead, Article 21 provides that the national competent authorities must periodically reconsider permits, ensuring that the installation’s emission levels do not exceed those associated with the best available techniques (BATs, including new and updated BATs) for such an installation, and that the installation complies with permit conditions. Permits are renewed in accordance with conditions that result from national competent authority permit reconsiderations.
Permit decisions subject to appeal and applicable procedure
The IED leaves the modalities of appealing permit decisions to national law, with the exception of specifying (in Article 25) that member states must ensure that members of the public, demonstrating a sufficient interest and impairment of a right, are able to challenge permit decisions before a court or other independent and impartial body.
Consequences of violating permit rules and decisions
Article 8 of the IED provides that in the event of a breach of permit conditions, the operator must:
- immediately inform the competent authority;
- take the measures necessary to ensure that compliance is restored within the shortest possible timeframe; and
- take any further complementary measures that the national competent authority considers necessary to restore compliance.
Where the breach of permit conditions poses an immediate danger to human health or threatens to cause an immediate significant adverse effect upon the environment, and until compliance is restored, the operator must suspend operating the installation.
In addition, Article 79 of the IED requires member states to impose effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions for violating permit rules and decisions.