IEA integrated environmental authorisation
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IEA that is: integrated environmental authorisation

In 1996, the European Union decided to establish some principles of integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC).

The reference regulatory framework was represented by Directive 96/61/EC (later rewritten by Directive 2008/1/EC and then merged into the IED – Industrial Emissions Directive of 2010) which, among other things, introduced the IEA, i.e. the Integrated Environmental Authorisation, setting 2007 as the deadline for Member States to transpose this directive.

What is the Integrated Environmental Authorisation?

The Integrated Environmental Authorisation (IEA) is a measure aimed at verifying the environmental compatibility of a given activity that is relevant to the environment.

It authorises the operation of an installation under certain conditions that guarantee compliance with the aforementioned IPPC requirements and the environmental performance associated with the Best Available Techniques (BAT); in particular, the latter concern the reduction of pollutant emissions and waste, the efficient use of energy, accident prevention and control during the cessation of activity (Article 6, paragraph 16, Legislative Decree no. 152/2006).

It is called “integrated” because it considers together both the possible environmental damage caused by the activity, and the operating conditions of the installation, at full capacity but also during transitional periods or company closure.

In practice, the IEA does not go so much to assess the environmental compatibility of a certain production company, but rather verifies that this operation has limited environmental pressures.

As well as having environmental protection objectives, the Integrated Environmental Authorisation also aims to simplify the authorisation regime for certain activities: in fact, it replaces to all intents and purposes the authorisations listed in Annex IX to Part Two of Legislative Decree 152/2006, which is reproduced here:

Authorisation for emissions into the atmosphere, without prejudice to profiles concerning health aspects (Title I of Part Five of Legislative Decree 152/2006);

  • Discharge authorisation (Chapter II of Title IV of Part Three of Legislative Decree 152/2006);
  • Single authorisation for waste disposal and recovery plants (Articles 208 and 210 of Legislative Decree 152/2006);
  • Authorisation to dispose of equipment containing PCB-PCT (art.7 Lgs. Decree 209/1999);
  • Authorisation to use sludge from the purification process in agriculture (art.9 Lgs. D. 99/1992);
  • Discharge authorisation issued by the A.T.O. (Competent authorities in the area), limited to the conditions for operating water discharges and the methods for monitoring these conditions (Decree Law 96 of 29 March 1995, converted with amendments into Law 206 of 31 May 1995, Article 2, paragraph 2).

Which activities are subject to the Integrated Environmental Authorisation?

The activities covered by the IEA are provided for by law and precisely by Annex VIII to the second part of Legislative Decree 152/2006. In brief, they are:

  • energy activities;
  • metal production and processing activities;
  • mineral products industry activities;
  • chemical industry activities;
  • waste management activities;
  • some other activities such as paper mills, tanneries, slaughterhouses, intensive livestock farming.

What is the procedure for the Integrated Environmental Authorisation?

Let’s start by saying that different types of applications can be submitted, depending on the situation. They are:

  • IEA for new installation: the installation does not exist yet;
  • First IEA for an existing installation: the installation exists but the Integrated Environmental Authorisation is required for the continuation of operation;
  • IEA re-examination: the competent authority may order a re-examination of the entire installation or part of it, on the proposal of other administrations or on the initiative of the operator, in relation to specific criticalities or new information acquired;
  • Re-examination initiated in fulfilment of IEA prescriptions: applies following the presentation by the operator, in fulfilment of a specific provision of the IEA measure issued, of a request with new elements of investigation;
  • IEA for substantial modification: this occurs when the operator requests to carry out, in an installation that has already been authorised, modifications considered substantial by the competent authority;
  • IEA update for non-substantial modification: applies when the modifications planned and communicated by the operator to the competent authority do not entail significant negative effects on the environment.

Once the type of application has been established, the first step in the procedure for issuing the IEA is for the interested person, i.e. the plant operator, to fill it in.

The operator must use the appropriate form available in the “Technical specifications and forms” section of the SEA-VIA-IEA Environmental Assessments and Authorisations Portal and must send it to the competent authorities.

Together with the application, the following documents must be attached:

  • Description of the installation and its activities, specifying their type and extent;
  • Description of the raw and auxiliary materials, substances and energy used or produced by the installation;
  • Description of the emission sources of the installation
  • Description of the state of the site where the installation is located;
  • Description of the type and extent of foreseeable emissions from the installation into each environmental media and identification of significant effects of the emissions on the environment;
  • Description of the technology and other techniques expected to be used to prevent emissions from the installation or, where this is not possible, to reduce them;
  • Description of measures for the prevention, preparation for re-use, recycling and recovery of waste generated by the installation;
  • Description of the measures foreseen to control emissions into the environment as well as self-monitoring and programmed control activities requiring the intervention of the body responsible for inspections pursuant to article 29-decies, paragraph 3 of Legislative Decree 152/2006;
  • Description of the main alternatives to the proposed technology, techniques and measures considered by the Manager in summary form;
  • Description of the other measures envisaged to comply with the principles set out in Article 6(16) of Legislative Decree 152/2006;
  • If the activity involves the use, production or discharge of dangerous substances and, having regard to the possibility of soil and groundwater contamination at the site of the installation, a reference report prepared by the Operator prior to the commissioning of the installation or prior to the first update of the permit issued, for which the application constitutes a request for validation.

Once the competent authority has acquired the documentation, it carries out the administrative verification of it and of the application itself, as well as of the payment of the contributions, within 30 days.

Once this has been done, the competent authority communicates the date of the start of the procedure to the operator of the plant, at the same time identifying the official responsible for the procedure.

Then, it communicates via PEC to the operator, to the Investigation Commission for the Integrated Environmental Authorisation – IPPC and to all the Administrations and territorial authorities concerned the start of the procedure and the publication of the documentation on its website.

In the end, it initiates the preliminary investigation phase at the Investigation Commission for the Integrated Environmental Authorisation – IPPC, for the formulation of the Final Investigative Opinion (PIC), and at the Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale (ISPRA), for the formulation of the proposal for the Monitoring and Control Plan (PMC).

Within 30 days, interested parties may submit comments to the competent authority, which may impose additional measures stricter than those prescribed by adopting the best available techniques if this is necessary to ensure compliance with environmental quality standards in a given area (Article 29-septies, Legislative Decree no. 152/2006).

At this point, there is the actual technical investigation by the Investigation Committee for the Integrated Environmental Authorisation, which will result in the Final Investigative Opinion (FIO).

The outcome of the work is published following the Services Conference for the issue of the Integrated Environmental Authorisation, convened by the CreSS to obtain comments and opinions on the abovementioned PIC.

Subsequently, if the outcome of the procedure is negative, the operator is notified in advance, and will have the opportunity to produce further preliminary elements. On the other hand, if the outcome is positive, the authorisation measure is prepared and submitted for the signature of the Minister for the Environment.

How long does the Integrated Environmental Authorisation last?

The duration of the IEA is ten years, except for EMAS-registered sites (sixteen years) and ISO 14001-certified sites (twelve years), it being understood that, in the cases provided for by art. 29-octies, Legislative Decree no. 152/2006, a re-examination of the authorisation is possible, as mentioned above.

IPPC in Italy

To close this article, we would like to focus on IPPC in Italy. Italy transposed the aforementioned European Directive 96/61/EC with Legislative Decree no. 59 of 18 February 2005, which was subsequently incorporated into the Consolidated Law on the Environment.

Italy has also been condemned by the Court of Justice of the European Union because, in April 2009, delays were found in the implementation of the IPPC regulations.

The procedure, over the years, has seen changes regarding the duration of the authorisation which, as just mentioned, is now 10 years (as opposed to the initial 5) and in some cases even longer.