Business urges the Parliament not to sabotage reforms on industrial pollution and environmental control
On Wednesday, November 17, the Verkhovna Rada Ecocommittee will consider a range of draft laws on industrial pollution regulation. These include draft laws №5339 on air pollutant emissions, №6004 on integrated pollution prevention and control, and its alternatives – №6004-1 and №6004-2.
All four legislative initiatives aim to implement to some extent the requirements of Directive 2010/75 / EC on industrial emissions into Ukrainian legislation, namely: integrated permitting system to prevent the transfer of pollution from one medium to another and a gradual transition to the best available technologies and management methods (BAT). But not all 4 documents would equally do good for the country. The European Business Association has prepared a brief review on each of them.
Thus, draft law №5339, which was adopted in the first reading on July 15, will be considered for the second time by the Ecocommittee. Before the second reading, it was significantly revised, and now it contains, significant corruption risks reflected in:
– the obligation for businesses to install automated pollutant emission monitoring systems, although there is currently no clear procedure for transmitting data and installing such systems;
– unrealistically short period for reducing pollutant emissions (no more than 7 years) and empowering local governments to develop emission reduction programs for companies operating in the region, which creates a huge field for abuse;
– introduction of liability for non-admission to inspections of representatives of the State Environmental Inspectorate Ukraine, which in fact eliminates the right guaranteed by the current legislation of companies to refuse the inspectors for several reasons;
– the possibility of revoking the emission permit at the decision of the Ministry of Health, while there are no clear requirements in the document on the validity of such a decision for a particular company.
Draft law №6004 almost completely duplicates draft law №4167, which failed three times, and, after being finalized before the second reading, it did not take into account the remarks of stakeholders, including business. Such remarks include ambiguity in the interpretation of certain provisions, selective implementation of the provisions of Directive 2010/75 / EU, unrealistic deadlines for the transition to new ambitious environmental standards without taking into account European experience. The main problem undermining the entire reform is the lack of funding, which was a prerequisite for its successful implementation at the international level.
Draft law №6004-2 is similar to the abovementioned draft both structurally and conceptually, although it contains some positive novelties that take into account the comments of business. At the same time, it has a range of remarks that do not comply with European regulations and the capabilities of domestic companies, such as the ban on commissioning work before the obtainment of an integrated environmental permit. Also, we should mention a limitation of seven years for the transition to BAT and no transition period at all for certain industries, unrealistically short deadlines to ensure automated emission monitoring and the reporting of the results in real-time, etc. And this is not a complete list.
Draft law №6004-1, which takes into account most business proposals, looks more or less balanced by now. For example, the procedure for conducting an extraordinary inspection based on a written statement of an operator seeking an integrated environmental permit is clarified. It also includes an exhaustive list of grounds for a refusal to grant a permit, consideration of modernization plans of companies, the Cabinet of Ministers, not the Ministry of Environment, the procedure for monitoring emissions, the possibility of developing a transitional plan for some companies, etc.
Besides, the document provides the possibility for companies to operate following current standards for emissions of pollutants, which cannot be increased until the date of approval of the BAT. This will allow a planned and reasonable transition immediately to the BAT standards without the need for intermediate investment in equipment, which in a few years is likely to be replaced, especially since the draft law gives from 7 to 15 years for such a transition (in exceptional cases unprofitable modernization), which in fact brings regulation closer to the provisions of Directive 2010/75/EU.
Therefore, the EBA calls on MPs to reject draft law №5339 and focus on the line initiatives – №6004-1 and №3091.
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