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Office of Strategic Environmental Management

Integrated Permitting: An International Collaboration Effort

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.


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What is Integrated Permitting?

Distinct from the United States (US) media-specific permitting system, a growing number of countries are using integrated permitting approaches.  Integrated permits control all elements of a facility’s environmental footprint. Emissions to air, water, and land are comprehensively managed, along with a host of other factors (such as waste generation, raw materials use, energy efficiency, noise, accident prevention, other pollution prevention factors). Accounting for an entire facility’s environmental impacts, an integrated permit goes beyond simply consolidating applicable media permits – it is intended to promote continually improving performance while ultimately driving the facility to more sustainable outcomes.

UK and EU Experience

The United Kingdom (UK) began using an integrated permitting system in the 1990’s. In 1996 the European Union (EU) adopted the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) directive. The IPPC calls for facilities to comprehensively account for all environmental impacts and covers 32 specific business sectors, including energy, metals, chemicals, waste management, pulp and paper, food and drink, and intensive agriculture.  The UK began its phase-in of IPPC in 2000 with the implementation of national law, the Pollution Prevention and Control Act, and estimates it had issued upwards of 3500 permits by the October 2007 implementation deadline (for all EU member states).

The Integrated Permitting International Collaboration Effort

For several years the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) partnered with the UK Environment Agency to research the processes, policies, and tools used to implement the IPPC system in the UK. During this time, the EPA organized and/or participated in numerous outreach activities sharing information on the UK system with interested parties and discussing possible uses of the IPPC permitting model in the US.  The EPA recently published a comprehensive report as the product of this collaborative effort. EPA is now inviting interested stakeholders, including state and federal permit writers, policy experts, and representatives from academia, non-governmental organizations, and industry to explore how an integrated permitting approach could potentially improve or facilitate better environmental results in the US – and what potential opportunities exist for testing such ideas.

Integrated Permitting Report

The EPA National Center for Environmental Innovation’s report, An In-Depth Look at the United Kingdom Integrated Permitting System: Exploring Global Environmental Protection Perspectives (PDF) (191 pp, 1.01MB), describes the historical and cultural setting for the UK IPPC system and provides information regarding the legal and organizational permitting structure, the permitting process, and permit requirements. In addition, a comparative analysis offers anecdotal assessments of individual US and UK permits in two industrial sectors. Finally, the report delivers a series of findings regarding features of the UK system that may be of particular note to US observers.

The accompanying set of Appendices (PDF) (70 pp, 4.73MB) offers useful and informational source material supporting the report.

The executive summary (PDF) (11 pp, 115K) very briefly covers the introductory and analytical elements detailed in the full report and focuses on the report findings (in an abridged format).

Referenced in the report, the permit matrix for the pulp and paper sector (PDF) (75 pp, 223K) is an analytical tool used by EPA to record and assess the elements of an IPPC integrated permit for a specific pulp and paper facility in the UK and corresponding terms in US Title V (air), NPDES (water), and waste permits. The permit matrix is simply a working document used by the EPA team and should not be viewed or quoted as a final official interpretation of the UK IPPC or US permits reviewed as part of the analysis for the report.

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