Best Available Techniques Reference Documents (BREFs) - IPCC Directive

Last updated: 5 November 2017
The IPPC Directive 96/61/EC lays down a framework requiring Member States to issue operating permits for certain installations carrying on industrial activities described in its Annex 1. The Directive applies to new or substantially changed installations with effect from October 1999 and no later than October 2007 for existing installations. These permits must contain conditions based on best available techniques (BAT) as defined in the Article 2.11 of the Directive, to achieve a high level of protection of the environment as a whole. Article 16.2 of the Directive requires the European Commission to organise an exchange of information between Member States and the industries concerned on best available techniques, associated monitoring and developments in them. Integrated pollution prevention and control is based on a permit system for installations. The Directive fully does not set standards or thresholds for the prevention and control of emissions, or for other environmental aspects, but leaves this responsibility to the Member States. Member States must ensure that permits for the concerned industrial processes - which installations must obtain and comply with to be allowed to operate - include emission limit values based on Best Available Techniques. The permits do not prescribe the use of any techniques or specific technology, and they can take into account the technical characteristics of the installation concerned, its geographical location and the local environmental conditions. Most Member States have decided to further delegate their obligations under the Directive to regional or local authorities. In the determination of BAT, the competent authorities that issue permits have to take into account reference documents on BAT (BREFs). BREFs are adopted by the European Commission based on an exchange of technical information on BAT between experts from industry, Member State authorities, research institutes and NGOs. This exchange is coordinated by the IPPC Bureau in Seville, which sets up a technical working group for each BREF. The permit system aims to ensure that: -Operators of installations take preventive measures against pollution, in particular applying Best Available Techniques, -No "significant pollution" is caused, -Waste that cannot be avoided is recovered or safely disposed of, -Energy is used efficiently, -Accidents are prevented and their consequences are limited, -The site is returned to a satisfactory state when the installation closes. This integrated, holistic approach should make sure that all the environmental issues that may be relevant for an installation are considered, that priorities are set appropriately and that the costs and advantages of different options are taken into account. The first set BREFs were adopted by the Commission in December 2001 and covered: Production of Iron and Steel, Ferrous Metals Processing Industry, Non Ferrous Metals Industries, Cement and Lime Manufacturing Industries, Glass Manufacturing Industry, Chlor-alkali Manufacturing Industry, Pulp and Paper Industry and Industrial Cooling Systems. Since then 23 other BREFs have been adopted, the last set dating from August 2007. A BREF for reducing energy use in major industrial sectors was approved in November 2007by a group of EU experts representing member states and industry. Unlike other BREFs it applies horizontally to all industrial sectors covered by IPPC, ranging from combustion plants to paper mills. It also does not recommend particular energy efficiency levels, as it was feared these could be used to set binding standards in IPPC permits, even though they would have been indicative under IPCC rules. Experts stressed that recommendations in other brefs should be considered first when determining permits. The BREF contains BAT recommendations for improving the energy efficiency of installations in 11 areas not covered in other BREF, including heat recovery, ventilation and air conditioning, lighting and cogener

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