The Parliament plenary adopted a report drafted by German MEP Holger Krahmer (ALDE), agreeing to more stringent limit values for pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides proposed by the Commission in its recast of the Industrial Pollution Prevention and Control Directive.
The recast, approved in committee in January (EurActiv 23/01/09), will require some 52,000 industrial operators to obtain permits from national authorities to release pollutants into the air, soil or water.
Nevertheless, MEPs want to go further to insert to the directive the so-called "European safety network", legally binding minimum emission limit values, which cannot be exceeded by any installation.
So far, the Parliament and the Council have not seen eye to eye on the issue. While MEPs insist that minimum values are necessary to avoid a large-scale resort to exemptions, ministers think these are too costly and fail to take local circumstances into account. They prefer the Commission's approach, strengthening the role of Best Available Techniques (BATs), which are deemed to be the most effective emission reduction technologies, according to EU reference documents on best-available technologies (BREFs) (EurActiv 02/03/09).
Environment ministers meeting on 2 March argued that introducing further minimum requirements could increase administrative burdens and have a harmful impact on the environment, as minimum values would represent higher emission levels than BATs.
MEPs also called for a more flexible approach to granting permits. While based on best available techniques, emission limits set for individual installations must be adaptable to local circumstances, they said.
Extending the scope
While the plenary endorsed extending the scope of the recast legislation to include medium-sized combustion plants (20-50 MW), they demanded that installations that only run for a maximum of 500 hours per year should be left outside of the directive.
MEPs also rejected the Commission's plans to widen the directive's coverage of intensive poultry farms and to differentiate between different poultry species. The Parliament voted for a compromise whereby only industries with 40,000 places for poultry are within the scope of the legislation.
Rapporteur Krahmer was satisfied with the compromise, saying the Commission's proposal for poultry would have involved "too much red tape," without guaranteeing better environmental protection.