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European institutions are close to finalising the second reading of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED); Cefic, the European Chemical Industry Council, supports the IED’s objectives.

Cefic believes that the directive would be more effective in ensuring sustainable environmental protection if it took greater account of different local needs and circumstances.

The IED is aimed at regulating industrial operators in a global European Union (EU) framework of permits.

According to Cefic, it matters for all of us because the objective is to manage pollution arising from a variety of industrial and agricultural activities, from the production of metals and chemicals to poultry or pig farming.

Just as Europe must be seen as whole, the environment requires a comprehensive protection.

To achieve this ambition of a high protection, optimised in the long term both from an environmental and an economical point of view, the protection provided by the IED needs to be effective by leaving some room for subsidiarity, being experience driven and cost effective to ensure optimal societal benefit.

A balanced implementation of these principles must be secured.

The next vote of the European Parliament should take into account such principles where applying to the text on which the European Council of Ministers has reached political agreement.

In April 2010, the environment committee of the parliament will adopt the draft on the occasion of the second reading of the IED directive.

The IED draft follows the path of the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive (IPPC).

Cefic’s members support the principles of the current IPPC and are willing to help ensure that the directive is fully implemented consistently across the EU.

The new IED uses the cornerstones of the IPPC, such as the Best Available Techniques (BATs), which are the methods currently available to industry that best provide for protection of the environment.

Manufacturing sites are currently regulated under the IPPC directive.

The chemicals sector aims to achieve a sustainable chemical industry by supporting innovation and competitiveness while reducing its impact on the environment.

For environmental and economic reasons, industry strives for efficiency when designing manufacturing processes to minimise emissions and resource use.

The IPPC is a complex learning-by-doing system, which has required time and extensive collaboration between all stakeholders at European and national levels.

The IPPC had begun to deliver environmental improvements, showing that it had a lot of potential; this trend should not be reversed by disproportionate changes in the IED.

As the IPPC’s implementation was reported to be uneven across some member states, the European Commission launched a reshaping process with several key ideas: to have a more stringent approach for more consistent implementation; to set tighter Europe-wide emissions limit values for large combustion plants; and to establish an initial quantitative soil assessment with remediation to the original state when the permit ceases.

Cefic supports regulations that stimulate innovative developments to reduce emissions.

The challenge ahead is to balance environmental, economic and societal issues to achieve the goal of environmental protection in a sustainable way.

These issues include the recognition of different local conditions such as topography, climate, the variety of manufacturing processes or of different types of plants and installations.

The IED, therefore, needs to allow a fully justified flexibility based on an environmental, technical and economic assessment.

In this respect, local competent authorities are best placed to implement and use, in a transparent and public way, the provisions of the IED to take into account these local variations.

Over-simplicity can be counterproductive if local and specific needs are not taken into consideration – one size does not fit all, according to Cefic.

Looking for optimally tackling emissions will only be a success if the new IED leaves a space to subsidiarity, empowering local actors to capture the complexity of the environment and find the best possible efficiency in each case, taking into account local characteristics when deciding how to manage emissions.

This proportionate implementation of the emissions regulations is all the more important since the IED follows an integrated approach, taking into consideration all emissions, their origins and their destinations.

The setting of a parameter must be proportionate so as to optimise the management of emissions criteria.

The reduction of an emission limit must be shaped to avoid the disproportionate growth of another emission value.

All parameters cannot be optimised at once; attention must be paid to side effects so as to minimise them where possible.

Cefic believes that the expertise of the EU stakeholders (experts and authorities) should be taken into account when adopting decisions based on BATs, through the Sevilla Process information exchange forum.

Such stakeholders know how far it is realistic to improve environmental protection given available technologies and potentially better ones.

They need to be well involved, in the spirit of the previous directive IPPC, in the legislative process of defining standards.

Emission limit values must be set via an analysis of best available techniques by good performers, but avoiding taking single plants or technical examples deprived of substantial feedback.

Such an exchange of EU-wide, appropriate information and of collective experience must be the basis for setting environmental standards.

To maximise real environmental benefits and to minimise unnecessary costs, a risk-based approach must be used when monitoring soil and groundwater and when deciding on soil remediation at the cessation of activity.

It is essential to give potential investors legal and financial certainty.

When investing in an existing site, operators must be in a position to understand what their financial liability would be in relation to the past activities of previous operators and to their own activities.

The risk-based approach would definitely help deliver this.

A benefit of this approach would be to help avoiding using new sites for new activities; a better legal security would not frighten investors to use old sites and would enable them to appreciate their return on investment.

A good environmental protection also means a good space and time consideration.

Cefic supports the possibility of progressively planned compliance with emission limit values by means of transitional national plans.

The definition and implementation of standards must take into account investment cycles and previous legislation such as the Large Combustion Plants Directive.

Protecting the environment as a whole when regulating industrial emissions does not preclude a strong and innovative European chemical industry, as long as the right balance between economic, environmental and social aspects can be found, according to Cefic, which is engaging in the debate for a more sustainable framework for protection of the environment.

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