New EU rules to impact UK’s energy-from-waste sector

New EU rules could impact the UK’s energy-from-waste sector as a new waste incineration best available techniques reference document (BREF) is likely to have major cost implications for the UK’s energy-from-waste sector.

Earlier this month, the European Union published the Waste Incineration Best Available Techniques (BAT) following a five-year review process.

The document, which sets new emissions, monitoring and efficiency standards for incinerators, could have far-reaching implications. According to Anita Lloyd, director at law firm Squire Patton Boggs, the “substantial reductions in emission limits across the board will potentially leave operators facing substantial investment costs to meet them”.

And the scale is huge. Within four years of publication, every energy-from-waste (EfW) plant in the EU must have reconsidered its permits and, if necessary, updated them to ensure compliance with the stricter requirements.

The new standards, which are even more demanding than “the already very strict legal requirements of Annex VI” CEWEP warned, will include new concentration ranges, known as  BAT Associated Emission Levels (BATAELs), which are the basis for emission limit values in the new permits as well as the continuous monitoring of mercury emissions to air and continuous sampling of emissions of dioxins and furans.

The document also sets expectations in reference to the most advanced techniques for combustion performance, energy efficiency, material efficiency, noise control and for implementing an environmental management system.

The EA has said it will not increase inspections in a move which may reassure the sector. It told ENDS that EfW was already “a closely regulated industry” and that it would therefore expect to continue with the same programme of inspections, audits and data reviews as now. It said however, there would be a full permit review programme to update those with lower emission limit values “and any other required improvements”.

In addition, the EA said it did not anticipate any changes to charges, although it confirmed it would charge operators for the permit reviews that it will be required to carry out.

For most pollutants, the EA noted, monitoring levels will remain the same, although some plants (most likely clinical waste incinerators, hazardous waste incinerators and some municipal waste incinerators) will need to fit continuous mercury monitors. Some plants may also have to fit continuous dioxin samplers and a small number of plants that do not currently have continuous ammonia monitors will need to install them.

The EA confirmed it was working on UK guidance known as an interpretation document, which will set out how it intends to implement the BAT in the UK.

More at ENDS.

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