Brussels, 11 March, 2009 – EEB, Europe’s largest federation of environmental citizens’ organisations, welcomes the outcome of yesterday's Parliamentary vote on the Directive on Industrial Emissions , during which MEPs fought off industry attempts to further weaken industrial emission controls.
Members of Parliament stood firm on improving some shortcomings of the Commission’s proposal, in particular by strengthening the application of Best Available Techniques (BAT), increasing public participation and transparency and correcting major flaws in the monitoring requirements for waste incinerators. MEPs also confirmed the need for a robust inspection regime for Member States, setting minimum periods for the frequency of random inspections for the large industrial installations covered by the proposal.
NGOs were also very pleased to see strong support again for a systematic extension of minimum environmental performance (the so-called 'European Safety net') to other industrial sectors not yet covered by minimum binding requirements.
"This vote represents a victory for Europeans’ health and environment,” said Christian Schaible, EEB’s Industrial Policy Officer. “There were some pretty scary amendments proposed in the 11th hour that, if passed, would have ultimately cost lives. Fortunately, the worst of the amendments were fought off by MEPs, who responded to solid evidence that we need to prevent and reduce pollution, especially from Large Combustion Plants.”
Schaible refers to scrapped EPP amendments that would have allowed the largest emitters of dangerous pollutants such as Large Combustion Plants, the intensive farming industry and the refineries sector to evade pollution reduction requirements as well as removing protection measures proposed for soil and groundwater. EEB condemns this last-minute, 180 degree change in position from the EPP, the largest political group in Parliament, on the compromises agreed under Parliament’s Environment Committee report.
“Allowing additional flexibility and derogations so that the oil industry could make more profits would have been dead wrong," Schaible asserted.
Thankfully, only one oil industry-inspired amendment made it past Parliament, which excludes refineries from the binding emission limit values and monitoring requirements applicable to combustion plants. John Hontelez, EEB Secretary General reacted to the vote: “We count on the Council to correct this flaw and recognise that it is unacceptable to vote on the side of short-sighted industry interests instead of the health and environment of EU citizens." Disappointingly, measures to tackle the significant emissions from industrial-scale farming activities were also substantially watered down in the vote.
 The Directive on Industrial Emissions would replace the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive. The proposal revises the IPPC Directive and integrates 6 sectoral Directives into the Industrial Emissions Directive as annexes. The sectoral Directives address Large Combustion Plants, Solvents, Waste Incineration and Titanium Dioxide.