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10 Nov 2010 11:11:29

New EU industrial emissions directive

New industrial emissions directive tighten up on carbon emissions
EU Council approves new directive that tighten rules on pollutants from large industrial plants in a move to save lives and boost clean technologies.

The European Union voted yesterday to adopt the industrial emissions directive that introduces tighter rules governing the emissions of pollutants by large industrial plants. The new law has been designed to cut premature deaths and boost the adoption of clean technologies. The pollutants affected by the directive include sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen compounds, dust particles, asbestos and heavy metals.

The estimated economic savings resulting from the new industrial emissions directive range from €7bn (£6bn) to €28bn, with 13,000 premature deaths predicted to be saved annually. About 52,000 plants are covered by the directive, ranging from metal production and chemical manufacture to poultry and pig farming.

In particular, the industrial emissions directive strengthens the Best Available Techniques (BAT) standard, requiring new plants to use the cleanest available technology from 2012, four years earlier than initially proposed.

Existing plants have to comply with BAT from 2016, either through immediate installation of clean tech, or declining annual emission caps that will force them to upgrade. Only plants slated to close by the end of 2023 or those that operate fewer than 17,500 hours after 2016 will not need to upgrade.

The industrial emissions directive would help to improve the energy efficiency of many power and industrial plants

EU environmental commissioner Janez Potočnik said in a statement “The [vote] is a milestone in industrial pollution control in the European Union. It will help ensure the level of protection from industrial pollution that EU citizens deserve. It will substantially strengthen the current legal framework, further reducing air and other environmental pollution and become an important driver for eco-innovation."

The EU Council said that, although the rules set by the industrial emissions directive are not targeting carbon emissions, they would help to improve the energy efficiency of many power and industrial plants and as a result it would help to cut carbon emissions and enhance energy security as well as tackle air pollution.

The industrial emissions directive, first proposed in 2007,merges seven existing directives into a single clear law to reduce the administrative burdens on industrial firms.

According to the EU Environment Commission, the largest industrial plants account for a considerable share of total carbon emissions of atmospheric pollutants, including 83% of sulphur dioxide, 43% of dust particles and 55% of volatile organic compounds.

The directive will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal -scheduled before the end of the year- and member states will then have two years to incorporate the directive into their national legislation and start implementing it.

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