European Union: Commission Unveils Guidance For Groundwater And Soil Protection Measures To Be Taken By Operators Of IPPC Installations

The Industrial Emissions Directive ("IED", 2010/75/EU) adopted in 2010 introduced more stringent measures for the protection of soil and groundwater.

The IED concerns more than 50,000 installations throughout Europe carrying out activities such as the combustion of fuels, iron and steel, paper and pulp, the tanning of hides and skins, waste treatment, food production, or chemicals processing (collectively, "IPPC activities"). In most cases, defined production capacity thresholds have to be exceeded in order to fall under the Directive's scope.

The IED requires that every installation subject to its scope is only operated with a permit providing for the application of the best available techniques ("BAT") to prevent and/or control the pollution of the environment. Following a stakeholder process, the European Commission adopts implementing decisions laying down conclusions on what is to be understood as BAT ("BAT conclusions"). These conclusions must be observed when IPPC activities are permitted.

Moreover, the IED strengthened the groundwater and soil protection instruments contained in its "predecessor", the IPPC Directive (96/61/EC, codified as 2008/1/EC). The two most essential measures introduced with the IED in that context are the establishment of a so called "baseline report" and periodic measurements of the groundwater and soil status.

Duty to establish a baseline report

The baseline report has to contain data on the groundwater and soil status on the industrial site of the IPPC activity. When the activity is definitely ceased, the (final) operator must again provide data proving that no significant deterioration of the groundwater and soil status occurred. If deterioration has occurred, the operator must take clean-up actions.

However, a baseline report does not have to be drawn up for each and every installation in which an IPPC activity is performed. Whether a report is obligatory depends not only on the chemical substances and mixtures being used, produced or emitted, but also on the possibility of groundwater and soil pollution on the respective site. The latter may in particular depend on the amount of substances used and their role in the production process, as well as on the precautionary measures taken.

In order to assist the considerations to be taken if a report must be produced and to outline which data such a report must include, the European Commission recently published a specific guidance document. This guidance provides a gradual approach to the aforementioned questions and aims inter alia at a more consistent understanding of the Directive's provisions throughout the EU, thus avoiding unnecessary administrative burdens for the operators and the authorities.

Duty to undertake periodic measurements

The IED obliges the operators of IPPC installations to implement appropriate groundwater and soil protection measures to be complied with while an IPPC activity is being carried out. Furthermore, it requires that the effectiveness of such measures is inter alia monitored by periodic measurements of the groundwater and soil status on the site. As a rule, such measurements must be performed at least every five years concerning the groundwater status and every ten years concerning the soil status.

As for the question whether a baseline report must be drawn up, the chemical substances being used and the possibility of on-site pollution play important roles.

The new guidance paper issued by the European Commission may also help in this respect.

Date of application of the new provisions

The provisions of the IED had to be transposed into national law by January 2013.

Without prejudice to a stricter transposition in the respective national legislation of the EU Member States, the obligations to submit a baseline report and to start conducting periodic status measurements become effective as follows:

  • For new installations: A necessary report must be attached to the permit application. In the permit, periodic on-site measurements of the groundwater and soil status will have to be prescribed.
  • When installations are changed: At least if an IPPC installation is "substantially" changed – which requires a permit – within the meaning of the IED, the necessity of drawing up a baseline report and prescribing periodic measurements will have to be considered.
  • Other existing installations: A baseline report may have to be submitted and periodic measurements prescribed the next time the (existing) permit must be reconsidered and updated. As a rule, the reconsideration of a permit is necessary within four years after the adoption of new or revised BAT conclusions.

BAT conclusions triggering the reconsideration of a permit within the next years are already available for the following industries: iron and steel, glass, chlor-alkali, tanning, cement and lime, and – shortly – pulp and paper. See here.

Notably with a view to the time of the permit reconsideration, the operators of existing IPPC installations are strongly advised to gather in a timely manner the data necessary for assessing whether the establishment of a baseline report and periodic measurements could be mandatory for their activities. Information on upcoming BAT conclusions can be found on the website of the EU IPPC Bureau.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions