Environmental protection pollution

The first Public Health Act of 1848 came into effect to control the concentrated pollution issues arising from the industrial revolution, regulation has attempted to redress the balance between economic activities and its associated negative environmental effects. At the time of the industrial revolution, there were two real issues, the first being that there was no environmental statute (ES) available, and secondly that the methods used to control pollution were ‘end of pipe’ techniques.

Integrated Pollution Prevention Control (IPPC) can be defined as a system that applies an integrated approach to pollution prevention and control, and is based on criminal law. IPPC utilises permits to control pollution, and the control philosophy used is best available techniques (BAT). Environmental management (EM) can be considered as a multi layered process, which centres on the activities of man and the relationships to the physical environment and the affected biological systems.

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For the purpose of this assignment, the author will consider, using illustrative examples, the notion that the principles and protocols of Integrated Pollution Prevention Control (IPPC) bring together the concepts of environmental management (EM) and Environmental Statute (ES). The United Kingdom’s law on pollution derived from the concept of Best Practical Means (BPM), originating from issues derived from air pollution in Leeds in 1842, whereby a fine could be imposed to offenders who had not complied with BPM to prevent or abate smoke nuisance.

Fundamentally the elements of BPM can be defined as ‘no emission could be tolerated which constituted a recognised health hazard. Either in the short or long term, and emissions in terms of both concentration and mass, had to be reduced to the lowest practicable amount, (Clay, H. 1999: 28) denoting that some levels of pollution were permitted and acceptable. For example, two tons of pollution was deemed as acceptable, whereas two point one tons of pollution did not comply with BPM.

Global scientific knowledge was rapidly increasing; these fundamental principles still applied one hundred and fifty years later, the concepts and contents remained static. In April 1956, Sir Anthony Eden’s conservative government steered the Clean Air Bill through the commons. Although not the first piece of legislation to undertake the growing issues of urban air pollution, the 1956 Clean Air Act contained two poignant characters, firstly, it aimed to control domestic as well as industrial smoke production, and secondly, the act enforced compliance.

The catalyst, which brought about the need for change, was due to the Smog, which occurred in London (1952). It is estimated that in excess of four thousand deaths (the figure varies in all reference articles researched). Admissions to hospitals increased, particularly amongst the elderly and those with pre-existing cardiac or respiratory diseases. The Smog caused panic, and the Government instigated a committee on air pollution (Beaver Committee) which took into consideration the social, economic, and medical effects that pollution had on health.

The recommendations from the Beaver Committee provided a blueprint for subsequent legislation. Why was the government slow in reacting to, and implementing this piece of legislation? Historically statute enacted reactively to the impacts of pollution as apposed to contemporary practices, which react proactively. By the 1970,’s the control of pollution was exceptionally fragmented and was dealt with by several authorities. In 1976, The Royal Commission for Environmental Pollution (RCEP) acknowledged that there were issues, and that a more integrated approach was required.

The RCEP proposed that one body should regulate the release of ‘prescribed substances’ to allow an assessment to be made of the impacts pollution has on the environment. Gradually a more unified approach was to be adopted, reports concentrating on the enforcement of pollution led to the inclusion of Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) in the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990. Perhaps the most influential issue highlighted with the IPC system, was the potential for the pollution problem to be transferred between the different environmental media, (air, land, and water) however; this was still kept within the law.

An example of this can be seen when the emission limit is placed on a polluting industry, the business then installs technology that cleans the air omitted into the atmosphere, thus reducing their polluting output. However, there is no control placed on the industry in respect to waste water discharge, furthermore shifting the problem onto another environment media. The focus for IPC was on regulation and the specific processes of industries, rather than looking at the issues associated with pollution holistically.

IPC implemented Best available Technique not entailing excessive cost, known as (BATNEEC). This however, had one fundamental flaw. If a business applied this technique and the process of preventing pollution entailed excessive costs, then it was a balancing act between cost and benefit. This concept required ‘more formal and transparent justification of regulatory decisions, based on economic concepts and information. ‘ (Harrison, R. , 1999: 331). Excessive costs unequivocally indicated that economic considerations were built into the environmental regulations.

However, in assessing the costs, diverse considerations would apply such as discretionary time periods for upgrading existing plant, how quickly technology changed for a particular industry, and historically how heavily the area was polluted. (Carter, N. 2007: 47) These factors were all assessed, self regulated, and justified by the operator running the process. The lowest cost ultimately was their prime concern; however, the benefit was merely subsidiary. The European directive for IPPC 96/61/EEC was adopted on 24th September 1996 and came into effect on 30th October 1996.

Transposition for new installations was required within three years and by 30th October 2000 for development where consent had been given, however, not yet implemented. Whilst to minimise any competitive distortion arising from long timescales for existing plants to upgrade to Best Available Technique (BAT) the transitional period for existing plant was extended to 30th October 2007. (Nath, B. 1999: 162) Whereas IPC discussed the processes, IPPC is risk assessment based, and approaches the method with a more holistic view, utilising a single permit process.

Underpinning IPPC’s objectives for the permitting procedure, the Directive has identified three fundamental strategies for achieving its goals for the protection of the environment as ‘a whole’. These being; the use of Best Available Technique (BAT), access to information and public participation in the permit procedure, and the exchange of information between Member States and the Commission, especially with regard to emission limits and BAT.

The management of pollution is controlled by BAT and ensures compliance within statute, however, the format is ambiguous to business operators, and BAT has adopted the BATNEEC definition, nevertheless does not define ‘the best available technique’ for the operators, in essence there has been no additional progression between BATNEEC and BAT. IPPC’s objective is to achieve environmental protection, and links three areas to deliver this within acceptable levels of expenditure to industry, these being Environmental Engineering, Environmental Management, and Environmental Assessment.

An Environmental Management System (EMS) can be defined as ‘ the part of the overall management system that includes organisational structure, planning of activities, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes and resources for developing, implementing, achieving , reviewing and maintaining the environmental policy’ (ISO 14001). In essence, an EMS is a structured, reflexive and people based approach to securing environmental improvement.

A good environmental management system is able to assist in conformity with client requirements within the supply chain, enhance businesses reputation, and support in the improvement of communication with employees, shareholders and other stakeholders. There are two types of EMS’s, informal and formal. Informal is an ‘in house’ system written specifically to the companies own specifications or can be based on a formal standard. Formal, this is based on and certified to a recognised standard, this standard being ISO 14001.

An EMS demonstrates good management of legislative compliance and managing systems proactively. The Polluter Pays Principle (PPP) can be defined, as those who damage the environment should bear the cost of such damage. PPP was introduced into the European Commission (EC) Treaty in 1987, references to the principle date back as far as 1973 (Bryant, R. 1997 : 67) when it was amid a lengthy list of principles set down in the first EC Environmental Action Programme (EAP). EAP stated that the ‘cost of preventing and eliminating nuisances must in principle be borne by the polluter’.

Despite its prolonged history and extended denotation, the application of PPP has been far from comprehensive. There have been numerous disputes (Bryant, R. and Wilson, G. , 1997: 61-80. ) regarding the practical interpretation of the principle. One inveterate theme has been the relative role of regulation versus economic instruments in the implementation of the PPP; another has been whether polluters have to pay for the full costs of control and or restoration measures, in some cases the penalties instigated were less than the clean up process, one may question the equity of this process.

The PPP, therefore, is set to remain a facet of EC environmental policy in the future. The proposed sixth EAP provides a clear indication to this effect by proposing the following assurance for the coming decade ‘Environmental 2010: Our Future, Our Choice’. To endorse the polluter pays principle, [possibly] by utilising market-based instruments, such as the use of environmental taxes, charges, and subsidies, could internalise the negative as well as the positive impacts on the environment.

The principle should also make an important contribution in the process of integrating environmental considerations into sectoral decision making, by supporting the integration of ‘external’ environmental costs within economic decision-making. In conclusion, most regulatory mechanisms face a fundamental administrative dilemma, one advantage of regulation is that there should be unanimity across industry, in essence, there are strong pressures undermining this principle. (Filleul, L. , Medina, S. and Cassadou, S. 2003: 528). The control of pollution is a complex process with an informational asymmetry favouring the polluter.

IPPC endeavours to integrate all aspects of environmental protection in order to increase overall quality. Although impossible to assess how successful the policy will be in the future, the transition to a sustainable society involves the impact of more than one stakeholder. Businesses, employees, shareholders, and Governments are not likely to change their cultural behaviour until they can be assured that the consumer will fully support them. Whilst the market continues to provide the goods, which the consumer demands, it is unlikely that the nation will see a radical change.