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Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999

Background

5.Part I of the 1990 Act contains the Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) regime and Local Air Pollution Control (LAPC) regime. Both are concerned with regulating pollution from industrial processes. The first is concerned with preventing or minimising pollution of the environment due to the release of substances into the air, water or land. The second is concerned with preventing or minimising air pollution and applies to those industrial processes which are not considered to give rise to significant pollution of water or land. Central to both regimes is the requirement that the "Best Available Techniques Not Entailing Excessive Costs" should be used to prevent or minimise pollution. In addition to these regimes, Part II of the 1990 Act contains the Waste Management Licensing system, which is concerned with regulating the deposit, disposal or recovery of waste.

6.The UK must implement the IPPC Directive by 31st October 1999. It requires a range of industrial installations to be regulated by a system of integrated pollution control (i.e. a system in which emissions to air, water and land, plus other environmental effects, are considered together and conditions set so as to achieve a high level of protection for the environment as a whole). Permit conditions must be based on the use of the "Best Available Techniques", which is a very similar concept to "Best Available Techniques Not Entailing Excessive Cost" in Part I of the 1990 Act. Both concepts are designed to provide for a flexible, case by case approach to regulation which balances cost with environmental benefit. Around 7,000 installations in the UK will be covered by the Directive including most of those regulated at present under the IPC regime in Part I of the 1990 Act; some 1,500 of the 13,000 regulated at present under the LAPC regime in Part I of that Act; over 1,000 of the installations regulated under the Waste Management Licensing regime contained in Part II of that Act; and significant numbers of installations which are at present unregulated by either Part I or Part II of the 1990 Act. This latter category mainly comprises large, intensive pig and poultry installations, plus large installations for the manufacture of food and drink products.

7.The main purpose ofsections 1 and 2 and the Schedules to the Act is to enable a single, coherent pollution control system to be set up by regulations which will apply to all of the installations to which the IPPC Directive applies and to those installations currently regulated under Part I of the 1990 Act but to which the Directive does not apply (the whole of Part I of the 1990 Act will, in due course, be repealed by this Act, subject to what is said below in relation to Northern Ireland). Section 2 and Schedule 1 also provide for regulations to be made under the Act to cover various ancillary matters connected with the prevention or control of pollution. An example would be the collection of information about emissions, energy and waste for inclusion in a pollution inventory.

8.The Government's proposals for the implementation of the IPPC Directive have been the subject of three consultation papers, "UK Implementation of EC Directive 96/61 on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control: Consultation Paper" issued in July 1997, "UK Implementation of EC Directive 96/61 on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control: Second Consultation Paper" issued in January 1998 and “Third Consultation Paper on the Implementation of the IPPC Directive” issued in December 1998. A fourth consultation paper, including a draft of the regulations which the Secretary of State proposes to make under the Act, is due to be published in August 1999.

9.The IPPC Directive also applies to large combustion plant on offshore installations. The Government intends to use the Act not only to implement this part of the Directive but also to improve other aspects of the offshore environmental regime, including implementing the Oslo and Paris Commission’s (OSPAR) decision 96/3 on the use and discharge of chemicals offshore. In addition section 3 of the Act will enable the Government to implement the recommendation in Lord Donaldson’s report on the Sea Empress disaster that the Secretary of State should have powers to direct operations following a pollution incident. The Department of Trade and Industry published in March 1999 “A consultation paper on the implementation of the IPPC Directive for Combustion Units on Offshore Oil and Gas facilities and other aspects of the offshore oil and gas environmental regime”.

10.Part II of the 1990 Act, which replaced the waste disposal licence regime in the Control of Pollution Act 1974, rectified a deficiency in the 1974 Act regime whereby holders of disposal licences could hand in their licences and absolve themselves of further responsibility for landfills and other waste facilities. Under Part II of the 1990 Act, a waste management licence remains in force unless it is revoked by the Environment Agencies or its surrender is accepted by the Agencies (who must be satisfied that environmental pollution or harm to human health is unlikely to be caused).

11.Licences under the 1974 Act were converted into waste management licences under Part II of the 1990 Act. However, a number of the converted licences were issued subject to time limits which in some cases have expired without either the Agency or the licence holder being aware of the fact. Such time limits allow a licence to expire (and thus licence holders to absolve themselves of further responsibility) without the environmental and health safeguards provided by Part II of the 1990 Act in relation to revocations and surrenders. Section 4 of the Act addresses this problem by removing the time limits applying to these converted 1974 Act licences.

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Explanatory Notes

Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.

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