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What impact will Brexit have on International Emissions Directive (IED) compliance?

Frank Wayman

30 Jul 18

This is the fifth blog post by Dr Frank Wayman PHD taken from his recent e-book, How will the EU Industrial Emissions Directive impact the Brewing and Drinks? (Read the first, second, third and fourth here). In this post Frank examines how Brexit will impact on International Emissions Directive (IED) compliance requirements.

What will IED compliance look like in the future? The intended strategy of the International Emissions Directive is that emissions from industry will become increasingly regulated over time in order to reduce the overall level of pollution.

This means that there will be a review of emission limits and the thresholds for compliance. Medium-sized sites that do not have to comply with this review of the FD&M might find that they are included in the scope of the next one (expected in 2027). New equipment and processes expected to be in use after this time should be benchmarked, therefore if you are a producer of equipment used in one of these processes, you will need to be planning for compliance.

What impact will Brexit have on IED compliance

How will Brexit affect the IED?

Nothing is ‘set in stone’, but the Industrial Emissions Directive is already enacted into UK law in the form of an update to the PPC regulations. Additionally, all UK political parties have pledged to maintain the current European standards of environmental regulation and there is also the principle of ‘regulatory alignment’ throughout the Brexit process, which mean these regulations are expected to continue after Brexit.

The FD&M BREF is expected to be published either while the UK is still a member state within the EU, or within the transition period which may immediately follow Brexit. One of the expectations of the transition period is that the UK will continue to adopt new EU regulations during this time. The FD&M BREF is one of these.

Within the industrial sector, for example, the plan is for climate change emissions to reduce its CO2 emissions to be less than 20% of 1990 levels by 2050. The energy saving elements of the IED and BREFS are therefore being used to implement the Kyoto Protocol and will directly affect industrial operations in the food and drink industry.

The UK has signed up to the Kyoto Protocol and many other international agreements that define lower emission goals. The IED and its BREFs are designed to help EU member states meet these international obligations. If the UK were to cease compliance with the IED, another, similar piece of legislation would have to be put in its place.

What impact will Brexit have on IED compliance

IED Derogations

It is important to point out that exemption, or ‘derogation’ from the limits is allowed under certain conditions, such as if the cost of compliance is too high or the geographical location or technical characteristics of the plant make it too difficult to achieve.  Derogations can be applied to individual sites for compliance with parts of the new regulations. 

Understandably, there is a lot of interest in derogations, but operators should be aware that these require considerable work. They will need to demonstrate to the regulator that there are good reasons why they cannot comply.

One such example that Alpheus have worked on recently is a site that has a very high nitrogen discharge but doesn't emit into a nitrogen-sensitive zone. Attempting to remove the nitrogen, using a lot of energy and chemicals, would have no benefit to the receiving environment while costing money and harming the global environment, and the regulator therefore accepts the derogation argument.

Applications for a derogation need to be made in the first year. The reason for this is that there is a possibility that the derogation could be rejected, therefore the site will still have sufficient time to comply within the four-year compliance timescale.

Does this present opportunities?

Any change in the marketplace is as much an opportunity for some as it is a challenge for others. The thresholds and limits within the FD&M BREF are already available in draft form. Business decisions to move production from one site to another to use spare capacity within sites or rationalise the manufacturing process should now take these regulations into account.

Furthermore, FoodDrinkEurope are working with the EU on Product Environmental Footprinting. Producers who are able to get ahead of the competition on these metrics will no doubt have better leverage with regulators and may also increase market share with consumers.


You can read more about how to ensure your organisation is IED compliant by downloading the complete e-book.

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