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New emission standards for installations

The new Regulation of the Minister of the Environment on Standards for Emissions from Installations went into force on 25 May 2011.
The regulation dated 22 April 2011 supersedes the previous regulation dated 20 December 2005. The provisions of the new regulation concerning such issues as classification of volatile organic compounds released into the atmosphere by ordinary mechanical ventilation systems as VOCs that are released in an unorganised manner come into effect on 1 July 2012, which means that the new rules will not apply for another year to VOCs released from certain installations.
The changes in the Polish regulations follow from adoption of the Industrial Emissions Directive (2010/75/EU), which we reported on previously at the Litigation Portal.
The new Polish regulation does not yet fully implement the requirements of the Industrial Emissions Directive, although it does harmonise Polish law with EU law to a certain extent.
The regulation also increases the administrative authorities’ control over actions by businesses. Previously, a business was required to notify the environmental licensing authorities (or in some instances the Minister of the Environment) of events such as exceeding the conditions set forth in a permit or other specifications for operation of industrial installations. The new rules also require notification of the province environmental inspector. This is intended to increase the level of monitoring and help prevent release of harmful gases and particles into the atmosphere.
Some of the changes are intended to provide more transparent rules. For example, there are changes affecting businesses emitting VOCs while applying finishing to automobiles. The new rules clarify that these emission standards apply to finishing of new motor vehicles as well as bodies for new vehicles, and the definition of “motor vehicles” has now been clarified to exclude vehicles that travel on rails as well as tractors and other farm vehicles. The concept of applying finishing has been clarified to exclude repainting of used motor vehicles, which should be important news for automobile repair shops, for instance.
The new regulation introduces certain more rigorous quantitative requirements for businesses. For example, the permissible quantities of harmful substances released during fuel combustion have been reduced.
Under the interim provisions, the emission standards for VOCs will not apply to existing installations until 1 April 2013. Existing installations must be equipped with protective equipment limiting the quantities of VOC emissions, however. This provision does not apply to existing installations emitting especially harmful VOCs (e.g. carcinogenic or mutagenic VOCs), however, because they are already subject to specific emission standards defined in the regulation.
Bartosz Kuraś, Environmental Law practice, Wardyński & Partners