Environmental groups welcome tougher laws but express disappointment that certain measures to tackle industrial emissions have been watered down

The European Parliament has brushed aside industry attempts to weaken environmental controls by voting to strengthen the European Directive on Industrial Emissions.

Members of Parliament stood firm on improving some shortcomings of the Commission’s proposal, in particular by strengthening the application of Best Available Techniques (BAT), increasing public participation and transparency and correcting major flaws in the monitoring requirements for waste incinerators, said the European Environmental Bureau.

MEPs also confirmed the need for a robust inspection regime for member states, setting minimum periods for the frequency of random inspections for the large industrial installations covered by the proposal.

NGOs were also pleased to see strong support for extending minimum environmental performance to other industrial sectors not yet covered by minimum requirements.

Christian Schaible, EEB’s industrial policy officer, said: ‘There were some pretty scary amendments proposed in the 11th hour that, if passed, would have ultimately cost lives. Fortunately, the worst of the amendments were fought off by MEPs, who responded to solid evidence that we need to prevent and reduce pollution, especially from Large Combustion Plants’

“Allowing additional flexibility and derogations so that the oil industry could make more profits would have been dead wrong.

Christian Schaible, EEB's industrial policy officer

Europe scrapped amendments that would have allowed the largest emitters of dangerous pollutants to evade pollution reduction requirements as well as removing protection measures proposed for soil and groundwater, said the EEB.

‘Allowing additional flexibility and derogations so that the oil industry could make more profits would have been dead wrong,’ asserted Schaible.

Only one oil industry-inspired amendment made it past Parliament, which excludes refineries from the binding emission limit values and monitoring requirements applicable to combustion plants.

John Hontelez, EEB Secretary General reacted to the vote: ‘We count on the Council to correct this flaw and recognise that it is unacceptable to vote on the side of short-sighted industry interests instead of the health and environment of EU citizens.’

The EEB also expressed disappointment that measures to tackle emissions from industrial-scale farming activities were also substantially watered down in the vote.