In response to the need to ensure proper management of the environmental impact of industrial and commercial activities, many countries have adopted laws and regulations aimed at protecting natural resources and biodiversity.
This is the case of the Integrated Environmental Permit, a figure of administrative intervention and environmental management whose main objective is to ensure the sustainable management of these activities, minimising negative impacts on the environment and guaranteeing the protection of natural resources and public health.
What does the IEP stand for?
The Integrated Environmental Permit, or IEP, is based on an integrated approach to environmental management, which means that it considers all environmental aspects related to a specific industrial activity as a whole: instead of issuing separate environmental permits for each individual aspect of the activity, such as air emissions, water discharges or waste management, the IEP seeks a more comprehensive and coherent approach.
Another characteristic of the IEP is that it covers the entire production process of an industrial installation, from construction to decommissioning, including aspects such as pollution prevention, waste management, resource consumption and emissions.
Integrated Environmental Permit Law
In Spain, the Integrated Environmental Permit is regulated by Law 16/2002 of 1 July 2002 on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC).
The IPPC is a transposition of EU Council Directive 96/61/EC, which establishes a Community framework for integrated pollution prevention and control. The main objective of the law is to achieve a high level of protection of the environment as a whole by promoting integrated pollution management.
The competent body for granting IPAs is the Autonomous Community where the installation is located.
Who needs an Integrated Environmental Permit?
The activities subject to the Integrated Environmental Permit are those which, due to their nature, size or location, may have a significant impact on the environment. The most common activities subject to this authorisation include:
- Energy installations: Power stations, oil refineries, nuclear plants and wind farms.
- Metal production and processing: iron and steel works, foundries, aluminium plants.
- Chemical industry: chemical, petrochemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing plants.
- Waste treatment and disposal: landfills, incinerators and waste water treatment plants.
- Agri-food industry: Slaughterhouses, feed mills and certain intensive livestock farms.
It is important to note that the list of activities subject to IAA may vary according to the country and its specific legislation. Local regulations and guidelines established for each type of industrial activity should also be considered.
When should the IEP be applied for?
The application for the Integrated Environmental Permit (IEP) must be submitted before the start of the construction or operation of the industrial or commercial activity that is the subject of this permit. It is essential to obtain the IEP prior to any activity that may have a significant impact on the environment.
In most cases, environmental laws and regulations require that the application for an IEP be submitted during the initial stages of the project, as part of the pre-planning and approval process.
It is therefore the responsibility of the developer or operator of the industrial activity to anticipate the need for permits and to make the application well in advance, as it is a time-consuming process involving the preparation of detailed documentation.
What information will the Integrated Environmental Permit contain?
According to what is established on the MITECO website, the Integrated Environmental Permit has the following requirements:
- Emission Limit Values (ELV) of pollutants, parameters or equivalent technical measures.
- Requirements for soil and groundwater protection.
- Requirements for minimisation of transboundary pollution (if applicable).
- Systems and procedures for the control of emissions and wastes.
- Measures for other than normal operating conditions.
- Conditions under which cessation of activity or closure of installation is carried out.
- Regular reporting requirements to the competent authorities.
- Conditions for determining compliance with ELVs.
- Operator responsibilities.
The Integrated Environmental Permit is a valuable instrument for sustainable environmental management, as it comprehensively addresses the impacts of industrial activities on multiple environmental aspects.
This authorisation, whose purpose is fundamentally preventive, is necessary in any industrial or business activity that may have a negative impact on the environment and must be carried out prior to the start of the activity and may vary according to the country or region where the industrial installation or activity is located, depending in the case of Spain directly on each Autonomous Community.