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Are you ready for the new medium combustion plant directive?

If you operate a combustion plant between 1-50MWth input, you are likely to be affected by the EU Medium Combustion Plant Directive (MCPD), which will be transposed into UK legislation by 19 December 2017. Its effects will be far reaching and beyond the industrial sector, also incorporating institutions such as universities and hospitals.


Whilst the directive specifies a number of exemptions in Article 2, it is expected to affect around 17,000 plants in the UK.  These are plants which previously fell in the gap in legislation, being too large for the scope of the regulations on eco-design requirements, and too small for the scope of the Industrial Emissions Directive and/or the Large Combustion Plant Directive.  Ambitious new emission limits for NOx, SO2 and dust are to be introduced for MCP including boilers, turbines and engines.

Defra ran a consultation on the MCPD between November 2016 and February 2017 and the results were published at the end of June.  Whilst no formal guidance has been issued yet, the Environment Agency (EA) has recently confirmed that it will be the regulator for the MCPD and it is currently in the process of developing the approach for compliance checks, monitoring standards and fee structure.  However, there are still a number of uncertainties surrounding implementation of the directive, especially with regards to monitoring and compliance. 

We know that the MCPD will be transposed into law in England and Wales via amendments to the existing Environmental Permitting Regulations (EPR).  Operators of MCP will be required to obtain an environmental permit, which will specify the permitted plant, the emission limits values (ELVs) that apply to that plant and the monitoring requirements. For MCPs which are part of an existing regulated facility, e.g. Part A1, A2 or B Installations, the EA will issue a Regulation 61 Notice to operators requesting the relevant information to allow them to vary the permits.  Operators of MCP on currently unregulated / non-permitted sites will be required to make an application to the EA for a permit by the relevant date(s) (specified in the directive). 

I would recommend that anyone likely to be affected by the MCPD starts to plan accordingly and keeps an eye out for further news and guidance; the draft SI is expected to be published imminently and the legal instrument and impact assessments laid in parliament in mid-October before the legislation comes into force in mid-December. 

Karen Phillipson is associate consultant for environment and sustainability based in Manchester