Richard Poynton rounds off his series on integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) and how it impacts on the food industry.

Operators of installations likely to be regulated under the new Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) regime have had a long wait. The Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000, which were expected in October last year, finally emerged in April, in a last draft form for comment.

Hot on the heels of these draft regulations, The Environment Agency, which will regulate the Part A1 Permits applicable to the majority of food industry installations, published its ‘Regulatory Package’. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency intends to produce a ‘package’ similar to the EA’s with respect to IPPC at some time in the future and will be issuing ‘practical guidance’ on IPPC in July.

Food Industry News has already reported the main events in the UK’s. implementation of the EU Directive on IPPC (see September 1998, February, June and October 1999). This article is an update covering the significant points for food sector operators revealed by the draft Regulations and provides a brief outline of the EA’s guidance package.

Timetable
The new regulations will come into effect seven days after having been made. They are expected to be on the Statute Book some time before Parliament’s July recess. For food industry operators, perhaps the most important point revealed by the draft regulations is the revised timetable for bringing existing installations under an IPPC.

Existing installations to be regulated under IPPC, processing animal raw materials (except milk), and those engaged in animal slaughtering will be required to apply for their Part A1 Permits during the period 01.06.2004 to 31.08.2004. Those processing milk and vegetable raw materials will be required to apply between 01.01.2005 and 31.03.2005. Activities, if any, which require a Part A2 Permit, will be subject to application during the June to August 2004 ‘window’.

These two ‘windows’ will apply to the majority of food sector installations. A few may have other activities such as large scale combustion plant and, as in the sugar sub-sector, the operation of lime kilns, which are regarded by the regulator as being more significant in their emissions than the main stream food processing activities. In these cases the regulator may require operators to use the ‘window’ applicable to these non-food activities, which may be earlier than those detailed above. Schedule 3 to the regulations gives the full timetable of applications ‘windows’.

Although the dates indicated may seem some way off, operators should not be complacent. The regulations make provision for the regulator, or the Secretary of State, to serve a Notice requiring any person to provide prescribed information in a prescribed format. This provision can be operated at any time, ie, before permits are issued, or even before permit conditions have been established. The immediate purpose of this provision is to enable the UK to fulfil its obligation to the EU Commission to provide information for the EU Emissions Inventory.
Accordingly, operators preparing for regulation under IPPC would be wise to identify and to monitor and record essential emissions data from an early date. Even if the data are not called upon for the EU inventory, the effort and investment will pay dividends because the information will be very valuable to inform the process of permit application. Operators will find it easier to argue successfully for their preferred permit conditions if they have a strong emissions database to inform their case.

The draft regulations reveal that the definition of a Part 1 installation has been extended to include mobile plant. Mobile plant is itself defined as: ‘plant which is designed to move or to be moved whether on roads or otherwise and which is used to carry out one or more activities listed in Part 1 of Schedule 1’. Note that a permit covering mobile plant is only effective on one site. If the plant is to be used for Part 1 Schedule 1 activities on other sites, a separate permit will be required for each site.

Prevention and control of all pollution
The prime purpose of these regulations is to prevent emissions. Where this is impracticable they set conditions, by way of the IPPC permit to reduce emissions and energy usage to a practicable level. The control limits chosen for a given activity in a given sector are determined with reference to the ‘best available techniques’ (BAT) criteria.

These criteria, which are set out in Schedule 2 to the regulations, are interpreted in terms of the prevailing site conditions. In their turn, the BAT criteria are determined with reference to BAT reference documents, known as BREFS, which are issued by the EU Commission. The drafting of the BREF for food and milk has just begun and the document is scheduled to be completed by spring 2002. To some extent, this timing has influenced the choice of the ‘windows’ identified above for bringing existing food and milk installations into IPPC, given the obvious need for time to assimilate what is expected to be a lengthy BREF.

Schedule 5 to the regulations lists the air and water pollutants which are to be regulated. As well as the expected oxides of carbon, nitrogen and sulphur and nitrogen and sulphur compounds, the list of air pollutants includes compounds of chlorine and fluorine (eg, refrigerants) and dust. Dust is a common emission from food operations, which is easily overlooked, but which should not be omitted from the permit application. Even if main stream processing is free of dust emissions, these may still be a feature of start-up, shutdown, cleaning and other routine aspects of operation.
The list of 12 water pollutants includes three general items which are particularly relevant to the food industry, ie, materials in suspension, substances which contribute to eutrophication and substances which have an unfavourable influence on the oxygen balance (eg, are measurable by chemical or biochemical oxygen demand). In addition, the list includes persistent hydrocarbons and persistent bio-accumulable toxins and biocides and plant health products, which may be relevant to some food installations. In this context, it is worth noting that discharges to water now include discharges to sewer. When the permit application is made, the regulator is required to inform any sewerage undertaker receiving a discharge from the installation. The regulator must also inform the Food Safety Agency.

Control and penalties
Once the permit is in place, the regulator will monitor the mandatory information supplied by the operator. Where pollution, or the risk of pollution occurs, the regulator has three basic enforcement options. If the permit is adequate, but its conditions are not being met by the operator, the regulator may serve an Enforcement Notice, requiring the conditions to be met. In a more serious situation, the regulator may serve a Suspension Notice, suspending all or part of the permit and with it the authorisation to operate all or part of the installation.

If only part of the permit is suspended, the regulator may strengthen the permit conditions relating to those parts of the installation which remain authorised. This may be necessary to prevent, or to reduce, pollution from the continuing activities where essential controls reside in those parts of the installation for which authorisation has been suspended. Both these Notices specify what has to be done and by when.

If the permit conditions prove to be inadequate, the regulator may serve a Variation Notice and put in place the necessary changes in permit conditions either to prevent, or to reduce, pollution to an acceptable level. Where pollution has occurred, the regulator may use an Enforcement Notice to require a clean-up, or it may take direct clean-up action itself and seek to recover its costs from the operator. Obviously, if the regulator believes that an offence has been committed, ie, an installation falling under these regulations has been operated without a permit after the date when one is required, or has been operated in breach of its permit conditions, the regulator may take legal action against the operator.

Such prosecution powers, although a necessary part of regulation, are a contingency measure. The main thrust of the IPPC regime is to prevent, or reduce pollution, not to pick up the pieces after pollution has happened. Indeed, as has been emphasised in the earlier Food Industry News articles, this regime has been designed to harness operator input, to enable operators to use their expertise to achieve cost-effective pollution prevention solutions, consistent with BAT, and with prevailing site conditions. To this end, the EA has issued a comprehensive regulatory package, of which the following is a brief outline.

Helping with compliance
The Environment Agency’s ‘package’ has six components and is available from the EA web site and from trade associations. The package is open for comment until 28.07.2000. Comments should be sent to Graham Winter at the Environment Agency, Tel: 0117 914 2827 or e-mail to graham.winter@environment-agency.gov.uk

The components of the Package are: the permit application form; a guide to applicants; sectoral technical guidance (pulp and paper sector guide as an example); the general technical guidance note (where no sector guide is available); guidance on the preparation of site reports (regarding land contamination) in permit applications; and the permit template.
This package is to be complemented by a Practical Guide to IPPC from the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) which should be published by the time you read this.

The guide for applicants introduces IPPC and takes applicants through the application process. It also includes a brief section on what happens following the issue of the permit to assist the applicant to make the necessary preparation. The guide covers permit transfer and surrender and provides details of applicable EA fees and charges and of how commercially confidential information is handled in the context of the application for, and operation of, the permit.

The guide
The sector technical guide, which for illustration is from the pulp and paper sector, is based on the BREF for that sector. The guide emphasises that sectoral guides should be read and used with their corresponding BREF. The aims of the guide are to simplify and streamline the application process for operators while achieving consistency and transparency. Following an introductory section, the guide is structured to match the manufacturing sequence, beginning with raw materials inputs and following through process activities, emissions, wastes and waste management, energy, accidents and their consequences, noise and vibration, and plant decommissioning. There are also sections on emissions inventory and benchmarking and on environmental impact assessment.

The general technical guidance has the same objectives as the sectoral guidance. The document has a similar structure to that outlined in the previous paragraph, except that the section on sector specific activities is omitted. This guidance is intended for use where there is no sectoral guide. It complements other IPPC and relevant non-IPPC guidance, particularly with respect to the novel aspects of IPPC such as energy usage, noise and vibration, site restoration and accidents.

The site report guide describes the role and significance of the site report in an IPPC application. It sets out the risk assessment basis for these reports and highlights the questions which need to be considered in planning the data gathering required to prepare the site report. The guide sets out in diagrammatic form the stages normally required to compile a complete site report and details its essential components. Although the guide does not itself give full details of survey methods, it provides references to ‘how to’ information for this phase of the work.

The permit template provides an example of a completed permit, with the permit text and the illustrative content differentiated for clarity. The template shows what is covered by the permit, how the conditions are expressed and what information and data are required to be monitored, recorded and reported to the regulator. This template should not only be a useful guide to the application process, but should also assist operators to gather the essential information needed to satisfy any enquiries regarding the EU emissions inventory, as highlighted earlier.

As soon as the IPPC regulations come into force, the clock starts ticking for those existing installations due to be regulated under them. This Environment Agency regulatory ‘package’ and the details of the regulations will be essential early reading for those wishing to compile successful applications as a first step to making IPPC work for their businesses. For those planning new installations due to come on stream within the next couple of years, and which fall under IPPC, there is a need to get hold of these documents as soon as possible, to inform the IPPC element of these projects.