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The Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999

The quality of life for people living close to industrial sites will be improved by new legislation. It will also help meet national targets to tackle climate change. The Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999 paves the way for action to cut a wide range of pollution from factories and other installations, some of which have not been regulated before.

For the first time, too, many installations will have to improve their energy efficiency, helping to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the main cause of climate change. Further improvements include measures to cut noise pollution and to ensure operators clean up after they leave a site.

Welcoming the new Act 28 July 1999, Ex-Environment Minister Michael Meacher said:

"The Act will be a powerful tool for meeting the Government's commitments on the environment and improving our quality of life." It will lay the foundation for an updated pollution control regime, strengthening environmental protection and bringing benefits for industry and individuals alike. Comprehensive 'integrated' control will be extended to five thousand extra installations. And the new focus on energy efficiency could cut carbon emissions by three million tonnes a year by 2010. "We will have a flexible form of regulation where experience and good ideas can be shared, leading to ever greater reductions in pollution as new technologies become available."

The new regulations will meet the requirements of the European Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control. The UK will share a common pollution control regime with its EU partners, providing a level playing field for UK industry to compete.

Part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 established the Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) regime and Local Air Pollution Control (LAPC) regime to regulate pollution from industrial processes. Under IPC, the Environment Agency regulates emissions to air, water and land from around 2,000 installations. Under LAPC, local authorities regulate emissions to air only from around 13,000 installations whose potential to pollute land and water is less significant

The Pollution Prevention and Control Act enables new regulations to be made which will:

  1. implement the requirements of the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive;

  2. extend integrated control to around 5,000 extra industrial installations;

  3. take a far wider range of environmental impacts into account such as noise, use of raw materials, accident prevention, site restoration and energy efficiency (it is estimated that the new regulations could save 3 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year by 2010); and

  4. provide a consistent framework for the regulation of LAPC installations not covered by the Directive.

The new regime will maintain the current systems' central concept of a flexible, case by case approach to regulation which balances cost with environmental benefit.

The Confederation of british Industry have supported the Act for implementing the Directive coherently with existing UK regimes and providing a clear regulatory framework for operators.

In addition, the new regime will include deregulatory elements to benefit industry, such as extending permit review periods and introducing standard application procedures and standard permit conditions in appropriate cases.

The new regime will retain the principle that costs should only be imposed on an operator where there are commensurate benefits. The Directive specifies that where pollution control conditions are imposed on an operator, these must be 'developed on a scale which allows implementation in the relevant industrial sector, under economically and technically viable conditions, taking into consideration the costs and advantages'.

Around 7,000 installations in the UK will be covered by integrated control under the new regime including most of those regulated at present under IPC; some 1,500 of the 13,000 regulated at present under LAPC; over 1,000 of the installations (mainly landfill sites) currently regulated by the Waste Management Licensing system established under Part II of the 1990 Act; and significant numbers of installations which are at present unregulated by either Part I or Part II of the 1990 Act. This latter category mainly comprises large, intensive pig and poultry installations, plus large installations for the manufacture of food and drink products. The new regulations will also ensure that the 11,500 remaining LAPC installations remain part of a coherent regulatory framework.

The UK must transpose the EC directive into domestic legislation by 31 October 1999 from which time new industrial installations will have to meet the directive's requirements. The Directive's provisions must be applied to existing installations by 2007.

The Act also provides for regulations to be made to cover other matters connected with the prevention or control of pollution such as the collection of information about emissions to be made available to the public in the Environment Agency's Pollution Inventory.

The Government intends to use the Act as well to improve the environmental regulation of offshore oil and gas installations including the implementation of the Oslo and Paris Commission's (OSPAR) decision 96/3 on the use and discharge of chemicals offshore

In addition, the Act corrects a problem with current legislation which would have allowed certain operators whose waste disposal licences had time limits to walk away from their responsibilities for landfill sites without ensuring that the environment and human health were properly protected.

For more Information search the DEtr Web Page: www.detr.gov.uk

© ep@w Publishing Company Ltd. 2000
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