UK BAT (UK)

Industrial installations undertaking specific types of activity are required to use ‘best available techniques’ (BAT), which means the best economically and technically viable techniques to prevent, minimise and reduce emissions to air, water, and land.

BAT is used to determine the types of abatement technologies and methods that operators should put in place. BAT conclusions describe the best techniques and associated emission levels, which are the basis of the limits placed within environmental permits.

The UK Government, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government, and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) are putting in place a new regime for the development of ‘BAT’ across the United Kingdom (UK), following the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU).

Northern Ireland – any ‘Best Available Techniques’ determined in Northern Ireland will need to ensure account is taken of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which requires some specific activities that interact with the Single Electricity Market to continue to align with the EU Industrial Emissions Directive (IED).

BAT was adopted and applied across the European Union (EU) by the European Commission as BAT Conclusions (BATC) under the IED (Directive 2010/75/EU).

Existing EU BATC continue to have effect in the UK through the EU Withdrawal Act 2018. They are available in best available technique reference documents or BREFS.

The UK no longer needs to meet the requirements of new EU BATC issued after 31 Dec 2020.

30 August 2022 – Policy Paper – here.

BATC will be published as statutory instruments and used as the basis for permit conditions for industry.

The UK BAT system will take between 1 to 3 years to create a set of BATC depending on the complexity of the industrial sector. The order of BATC to be reviewed will be announced in advance.

UK BAT will be established by technical working groups (TWG) for the relevant industrial sectors.

The first 4 industry sectors to establish BATC groups will be:

1 Ferrous metal processing – galvanising (FMPG).

2 Ferrous metals processing – forming (FMPF).

3 Textiles (TXT).

4 Waste gas treatment in the chemicals sector (WGC).

The TWG’s will be established from September 2022. It is anticipated that the BATC for the industry sectors above will be published in the second half of 2023.

A new governance structure will also be established, with new independent bodies – called the Standards Council and the Regulators Group – consisting of government officials and expert regulators from all four nations of the UK.

A UK Air Quality Governance Group will also be established to oversee the work of the Standards Council and the delivery of the requirements under this new framework. Interested parties from industry, academia and civil society will be able to engage in the running of the BAT system through an advisory group being set up by the UK BAT Team.

Local councils currently play a major role in regulating industrial installations in England and Wales and have a clear interest in the impact emissions have on the health of local communities and the environment. The new regime will bring local councils into the BAT framework for the first time by involving them in the governance and standard-setting processes.

Some sectors in the UK had already begun a separate review process under the old EU BAT framework. These sectors will complete the BAT process, drawing on UK data submitted to the EU as a starting point, then tailor the BAT to meet UK circumstances.

Industrial Emissions (BAT) (GB from 1st Jan 2021)

Yesterday, 14 Oct, the UK government issued a short guidance note on EU BAT (Best Available Techniques) from 1st Jan 2021 – here.

This confirms the UK will no longer be part of the EU-Sevilla BATC (binding BAT Conclusions) document production process from 1st Jan 2021.

The UK government note states

it would make secondary legislation to ensure the existing BAT Conclusions continue to have effect in UK law after we leave the EU, to provide powers to adopt future BAT Conclusions in the UK and ensure the devolved administrations maintain powers to determine BAT through their regulatory regimes.

The UK government will put in place a process for determining future UK BAT Conclusions for industrial emissions. This would be developed with the devolved administrations and competent authorities across the UK. The UK government’s Clean Air Strategy for England sets out actions for determining future UK Best Available Techniques for industrial emissions.

The note makes no mention of Northern Ireland, where via the Withdrawal Agreement Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol, the EU Industrial Emissions Directive, and the EU BATC process would stay applicable in Northern Ireland.