The Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change (YPEKA) is heading towards the implementation of Directive 2008/1/EC (IPPC), on integrated pollution prevention and control as regards a category of industrial units, following the condemnation of Greece by the European Court of Justice (C-534/09) according to which from the 338 industries, only 208 had the necessary permits as required by the Directive.

The IPPC Directive, the most important legislation in the field of environmental protection from industrial pollution, establishes a procedure on issuing permits for new or existing industrial and agricultural activities with a high pollution potential, which must meet certain environmental conditions, so that the companies themselves bear responsibility for preventing and reducing any pollution they may cause.

The decision to issue a permit must contain a number of specific requirements, including:
• emission limit values for polluting substances (with the exception of greenhouse gases if the emission trading scheme applies);
• any soil, water and air protection measures required;
• waste management measures;
• measures to be taken in exceptional circumstances (leaks, malfunctions, temporary or permanent stoppages, etc.);
• minimisation of long-distance or transboundary pollution;
• release monitoring;
• all other appropriate measures

The main thrust of the Directive is to increase the use of “best available techniques” (BATs), an obligation to ensure that industrial operators use the most cost-effective techniques to achieve a high level of environmental protection.

Directive 2008/1/EC codifies Directive 96/61/EC concerning integrated pollution prevention and control, according to which all installations were required to pursue the necessary permits until 30th October 2007, and which was transposed into the Greek legal order by Law 3010/2002 and the relevant delegated legislation.

Pursuant to the IPPC Directive, the Member States are responsible for inspecting industrial installations and ensuring they comply with the Directive. In 2010 the central and regional services of YPEKA took steps on inspecting and issuing licences (decisions approving environmental conditions), based on the Joint Ministerial Decree Η.Π. 11014/703/Φ104/2003 ‘Preliminary Environmental Assessment Procedure and Approval of Environmental Conditions’, so that now remain open 21 cases, from the 107 at the beginning of 2010.

According to the recent announcement of YPEKA, the Environmental Inspectors intensify their inspections to ensure full compliance with the IPPC Directive within the next two months, and they immediately begin inspections in establishments that have not responded to the requests to provide information. The goal is within 2011 to carry out checks at 80 industrial units falling under the IPPC Directive.

If Greece does not comply with the judgment, the European Commission may refer the matter back to the Court and ask it to impose a financial penalty against Greece.

Edited by Tina Koutsopoulou

Sources:Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change; Eur-lex; European Court of Justice