Main authors: Froukje Maria Platjouw, Harriet Moore, Susanne Wuijts, Sandra Boekhold, Susanne Klages, Isobel Wright, Morten Graversgaard and Gerard Velthof
FAIRWAYiS Editor: Jane Brandt
Source document: »Platjouw F. M. et al. (2021) Coherence in EU law and policy for the protection of drinking water resources. FAIRWAY Project Deliverable 6.1R 200 pp


Here we discuss the legal requirements imposed by the Industrial Emissions Directive on states and/or the farming industry with a focus on ecological, monitoring and reporting, public participation (including farmer organisatons) and coordination requirements. The ecological requirements are subjected to a (vertical) coherence assessment of their contribution to FAIRWAY's objectives of protecting drinking water resources against pollution by nitrates and pesticides from agricultural practices.

Details of the analyses are contained in the Appendices of the full report:

Contents table
1. Overview of the Industrial Emissions Directive
2. Contribution of the Industrial Emissions Directive's requirements to achieving FAIRWAY's objectives

1. Overview of the Industrial Emissions Directive

The 2010 Industrial Emissions Directives aims to achieve a high level of protection of human health and the environment taken as a whole by reducing harmful industrial emissions across the EU, in particular through better application of Best Available Techniques (BAT). Around 50,000 installations undertaking the industrial activities listed in Annex I of the IED are required to operate in accordance with a permit (granted by the authorities in the member states). This permit should contain conditions set in accordance with the principles and provisions of the IED.

The IED is based on several pillars, in particular (1) an integrated approach, (2) use of best available techniques, (3) flexibility, (4) inspections and (5) public participation. The integrated approach means that the permits must take into account the whole environmental performance of the plant, covering e.g. emissions to air, water and land, generation of waste, use of raw materials, energy efficiency, noise, prevention of accidents, and restoration of the site upon closure. The permit conditions including emission limit values must be based on the Best Available Techniques (BAT). In order to define BAT and the BAT-associated environmental performance at EU level, the Commission organises an exchange of information with experts from member states, industry and environmental organisations.

The IED allows competent authorities some flexibility to set less strict emission limit values. This is possible only in specific cases where an assessment shows that achieving the emission levels associated with BAT described in the BAT conclusions would lead to disproportionately higher costs compared to the environmental benefits due to the geographical location or the local environmental conditions or the technical characteristics of the installation. The competent authority shall always document its justification for granting such derogations.

The IED contains mandatory requirements on environmental inspections. Member states shall set up a system of environmental inspections and draw up inspection plans accordingly. The IED requires a site visit to take place at least every 1 to 3 years, using risk-based criteria. The IED ensures that the public has a right to participate in the decision-making process, and to be informed of its consequences, by having access to permit applications, permits and the results of the monitoring of releases.

Overall, the IED can play an important role in controlling pollutant discharges to water and in enhancing the efficiency of water use in industrial activities. Though permits' emission limit values are to be based on the application of Best Available Techniques (BAT), stricter emission limit values are required if these are necessary to meet an environmental quality standard in EU law, such as good status under the Water Framework Directive.

The IED is therefore an important tool in controlling pressures on water bodies and contributing to achieving EU water policy objectives.

2. Contribution of the Industrial Emissions Directive's requirements to achieving FAIRWAY's objectives

Table 2. 7 Requirements and objectives of the IED

Label Requirements and objectives of the Industrial Emissions Directive
Reduce emissions To prevent or, where that is not practicable, to reduce emissions into air, water and land and to prevent the generation of waste, in order to achieve a high level of protection of the environment taken as a whole (Art 1)
Prevent pollution MS shall take the necessary measures that installations are operated as such that all appropriate preventive measures are taken against pollution, best available techniques are applied, no significant pollution is caused, generation of waste is prevented…. (Article 11)
Ensure rules are integrated When adopting general binding rules, Member States shall ensure an integrated approach and a high level of environmental protection based on BATs (criteria for determining BATs is in Annex III) and make sure to update BATs as new techniques become available (art. 17)

Overall, the average score from all participants for all requirements of the IED was close to 1. This suggests that respondents believe the requirements of the IED are considered to enable (M = 0.7) the protection of drinking water resources against pesticides and nitrates from agricultural practices. Figure 2.7 demonstrates that respondents perceive the requirements to prevent pollution (Art. 11 IED) and use integrated approaches and BATs (Art. 17 IED) are enabling the FAIRWAY objective. For both requirements together, 60% of the respondents scored these requirements as enabling (+1). However, scores are highly variable, indicating a range of perspectives. The remaining respondents scored the requirement to prevent pollution as +3 (10%), 0 (10%), -2 (10%), and 10% did not score the requirement due to uncertainty related to its contribution to the FAIRWAY objective. With regard to the requirement to use integrated approach and BATs, the remaining respondents (in addition to the 60% that perceived the requirement as enabling +1) scored this requirement as +3 (10%), 0 (10%), -3 (10%) and 10% did not score the requirement due to uncertainty related to its contribution to the FAIRWAY objective.

D61 fig207
Figure 2.7

Scores suggest that participants believe the most positive interaction is between the requirement to prevent emissions and waste (Art. 1 IED) and FAIRWAY objective. For this requirement, 40% of the respondents perceive this requirement as enabling (+1) the protection of drinking water resources. The remaining respondents scored this requirement with large variability; +3 (10%) +2 (10%), 0 (20%), -1 (10%), and 10% did not score the requirement.

Responses to open-ended survey items give some explanation about the scores, and variability between scores for different articles. In general, the requirements are perceived as enabling and of some relevance. Participant responses emphasized the importance of the fact that large intensive livestock farms fall under the IED. At these farms, Best Available Techniques have to be applied to decrease ammonia pollution. Decreasing ammonia emission will decrease the N deposition to soils and by that may decrease nitrates leaching. The directive could also have a similar enabling effect in the context of pesticides emissions from chemical/pesticide industry. However, respondents suggest that the contribution of Best Available Techniques for achieving the FAIRWAY objective depends on how effectively the terms of the IED are implemented and enforced.

The low average scores are partly due to some negative scorings, including -3 (cancelling), -2 (counteracting), and -1 (constraining). The open-ended items in the survey did not provide any explanations for these negative scorings. Similar to other directives, it is likely that these scores reflect the indirect nature of interactions between FAIRWAY objective and the IED requirements. For example, it could be reasonably assumed though that the negative scorings are related to the fact that the IED is more directly related to regulating industry practices, rather than the practices of individual farmers. Thus, the IED might be most relevant for large scale farms.


Note: For full references to papers quoted in this article see

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