Emissions from approximately 2,900 large combustion plants in the EU, including coal-fired power stations as well as peat, oil and gas power plants, are now likely to be subject to stricter environmental performance standards. These updated standards (“Best Available Techniques Conclusions for Large Combustion Plants” – BREF LCP), based on a decision adopted by the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) Article 75 Committee on 28 April 2017, are expected to be formally adopted by the European Commission as a Commission Implementing Decision. The negotiations leading up to the Committee‘s decision have been covered by a previous blog post on 25 April 2017.
The Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) is the main EU instrument that regulates emissions from industrial installations (including power stations) and came into force on 6 January 2011.
Its objective is to achieve a high level of protection for the environment and human health by reducing harmful industrial emissions. It creates an obligation for all plants to operate using Best Available Techniques (BAT) and to be issued with a permit setting emission limits in line with BAT. Regular sector-based discussions then take place to update BAT to reflect new technology.
As such, by the end of April 2017, the reference document on Best Available Techniques for large combustion plants (BREF) will be subject to approval by a special commission set up by member states under the provisions of Article 75 of the Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC Directive).
While the overwhelming majority of the UK’s environmental legislation is derived from EU legislation and UK climate change and energy policy is largely influenced by the EU, surprisingly, environment and energy has been the subject of only limited discussion in the context of Brexit. Observers anticipate that most environmental laws will remain in place, initially at least, as the government seeks to avoid a legislative vacuum caused by the repeal of EU laws before new UK laws are in place. However, longer term trends remain unclear as the UK is likely to face challenges associated with its energy supply and the changing energy market. In terms of the likely post-exit relationship, a number of experts have suggested three possible models. First is a limited free trade relationship with the EU, based on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) about to be signed between Canada and the EU (known as the “Canadian model”). A second option may be to agree bilateral accords with the EU governing UK access to the single market in specific sectors and remain part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) (known as the “Swiss model”). A third option would be for the UK to stay part of the single market by continuing its membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) (known as the “Norwegian model”). There have also been suggestions that the UK may seek its own bespoke arrangement.
Businesses operating in Europe are under increasing pressure to comply with new environmental requirements introduced under the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED). So far, operators have focused on the headline changes under IED, such as the strengthened requirement for a baseline survey and challenging emission limits. However, operators also need to consider the provisions of IED which target increased transparency associated with the findings from regulatory inspections.