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Polluters faced with closure under new rules

Companies in water-intensive industries such as food and drink, and leisure face having their facilities shut down under new EU rules, experts have warned.

New sector guidelines are currently being drawn up as part of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), which will heighten already stringent obligations on emissions of waste water and generation of waste, according to Alpheus Environmental, the water and wastewater asset management company.

Experts anticipate that the new EU guidance documents will include increased responsibilities in the design, construction, and operation of industrial facilities, specifically including water treatment, but warn that few businesses are aware of this.

They caution that companies in water-intensive industries face potential fines and disciplinary action, including the closing of facilities, if they fail to comply with the new rules that are set to come into force later this year.

Under the EU Industrial Emissions Directive, companies are obliged to reduce harmful industrial emissions, including emissions of waste water and generation of waste. The ‘polluter pays’ principle also puts the onus on companies to upgrade their facilities and for them to pay for any damage done to the environment.

The new guidelines aim to integrate and strengthen existing legislation; broaden the scope of industrial activities that are regulated; establish and prescribe the technologies required in each sector to reduce emissions; and require companies to establish a base line of emissions upon which licence thresholds will be set and adjusted.

Experts believe the regulations will be maintained in UK law after Britain has exited the EU.

“Despite the fact that this legislation is in place since 2013, the extent of the new obligations are only now becoming apparent as sectoral guidelines come into place,” said Declan Maguire, operations director at Alpheus Environmental. “Companies that were previously IED compliant will suddenly become non-compliant as they fail to achieve the new standards. If companies are not proactively establishing baseline reports of emissions and addressing deficiencies it will lead to penalties and ultimately facility closures, and no business can sustain this.”