We are market leaders in design and engineering for the industrial wastewater treatment sector

Environmental Legislation

A Gee perspective on the challenge of environmental legislation

It is axiomatic that the UK’s industrial wastewater treatment systems must meet imposed outfall discharge constraints. But the setting and policing of such standards has been through a process of ongoing change.

Prior to the mid-seventies, the controlling body in the UK was the local authority network. Following privatisation, this responsibility passed to the water authorities, who set their own range of standards for discharge into foul sewers. Where discharges were made directly into a watercourse, they came under the control of the National River Authority – which then evolved into the Environment Agency.

 

IPPC European directive

More recently, further major legislative change came with the introduction of the European directive IPPC – Integrated Pollution, Prevention and Control. The directive is framed to change the way that process industry addresses environmental issues. It does this through a more effective and extensive regime designed to reduce, prevent and eliminate pollution at source and through the efficient use of natural resources.

For some time, the UK’s domestic IPC – Integrated Pollution Control regime has required that emissions to air, water and land be considered together. Now that the British Government has enacted IPPC, a further level of integration to the control of pollution and the use of resources has been introduced.

In summary, this considers the environmental impact of an installation, including noise and vibration, waste minimisation, energy efficiency and site protection. It also embraces the management of a wider range of operations, looking at the pollution impact of processes and suggesting the best environmental methods of carrying them out.

It is this aspect of waste minimisation that has pushed Gee’s business forward over more than thirty years and which has been the driving force behind the application of new solutions and ever-more sophisticated technology.

 

Proactive recovery of water and material resources

Despite the efforts of these three decades, it is a salutary thought for industry as a whole that less than five percent of the plants that it has built have included facilities to recover water or materials.

At Gee, we hope that introduction of new legislation will drive forward the use of the new technologies that we have developed expressly for the purpose of the recovery – not just the removal – of toxic contaminants to meet a discharge standard.

 

The Polluter Pays

To be successful, industries of the future need to be more environmentally pro-active. Unsurprisingly, the clearly stated aim of the new regulators is to achieve a high level of environmental protection. The crunch is that this is to be carried out on the ‘polluter pays’ principle.

If carried out correctly, not only will pollution be reduced, but also the pro-activity of the company concerned will be rewarded with the issue of increasingly-important industry certificates.

 

Licenced to recover

IPPC licence implementation is based on an industry-by-industry review and there are many industries that are as yet unscheduled to comply. The European body responsible for setting up these structures is the IPPC Bureau based in Seville, Spain. In a consultative capacity, we at Gee & Company are actively involved with the bureau in drawing up guidance documents and are therefore able to assist clients in the process of compliance.

In the UK, the Environment Agency is tasked with issuing licences and issued its first licence in 2001 to a company operating in the pulp and paper market. Further permit applications are now being made and, whilst it is still early days, we do have a number of clients licenced – with wastewater treatment systems operating successfully under the new regime.

For example, Gee helped to secure the first licence in Hampshire for DARA and also very much involved with a plant installation and licence application for a Rolls-Royce plant in Scotland.

The challenge of change is with us. How prepared is your business?

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