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Environmetal Protection

Volume 406: debated on Wednesday 4 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures are in place to make large industrial companies responsible for their immediate environmental surroundings; and what plans she has to strengthen regulations. [115151]

Many industrial activities in Great Britain are currently regulated under Part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This introduced the systems of Integrated Pollution Control, which controlled releases to all environmental media, and Local Air Pollution Control, which controlled releases to air only.The Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000 were made under the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999 and will eventually replace Part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The Regulations implement the European Community (EC) Directive 96/61/EC on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) in so far as it relates to installations in England and Wales.The IPPC regime applies an integrated environmental approach to the regulation of certain industrial activities. This means that emissions to air, water (including discharges to sewer) and land, plus a range of other environmental effects, must be considered together. It also means that regulators must set permit conditions so as to achieve a high level of protection for the environment as a whole. These conditions are based on the use of the 'Best Available Techniques' (BAT), which balances the costs to the operator against the benefits to the environment. IPPC aims to prevent emissions and waste production and where that is not practicable, reduce them to acceptable levels. IPPC also takes the integrated approach beyond the initial task of permitting, through to the restoration of sites when industrial activities cease.Separate systems have been introduced to apply the IPPC Directive to Scotland, Northern Ireland and the offshore oil and gas industries. Regulation of industrial pollution in Scotland and Northern Ireland is a matter for the appropriate Ministers in these devolved administrations.