Energy-from-waste plants could get a much needed public relations boost from EU-wide plans to tighten pollution emissions limits.
European Commission proposed emissions reductions were backed by MEPs on the European Parliaments Environment Committee.
New minimum limits could be set by the Commission to reduce the use of permit exemptions.
The committee has added provisions to the Commissions proposals. These include: taking the changes EU-wide; making the permitting system more flexible; to exclude small plants; and keeping the public better informed.
Under the current system, the Integrated Pollution Prevention Control Directive, operators must get permits from the Member State authority. Proposed changes would mean recasting and merging seven EU directives, including the IPPC, into one. The aim is to reduce administrative burden on industry and public authorities by simplifying and clarifying existing rules.
To give the authorities that grant permits more flexibility, MEPs said that emissions limits for individual installations must be based on the best available techniques. The limits must also be adaptable to take account of local circumstances.
Amended legislation would cover combustion plants, waste incineration plants, waste co-incineration plants and installations producing titanium dioxide. MEPs also broadly agreed with a Commission proposal to bring medium-sized combustion plants (between 20 and 50 MW), within the rules. But they wanted to exclude small installations (below 50 MW) which operate for no more than 500 hours a year.
MEP Holger Krahmer (ALDE, DE) will guide the proposals through the EU Parliament.
Veolia welcomes changes
A Veolia Environmental Services spokesperson said: "We welcome the consolidation of the different legislative instruments to ensure nothing slips past the regulatory net while reducing administrative burden, so that resources can be diverted to environmental improvements - our core business.
"We are proud to be operating in an industry with the lowest emissions of almost any industrial process and certainly with regards to energy production.
"For some years the new generation of energy recovery facility infrastructure has been operating to BAT (best available technology) standards and the carbon benefits and contribution to renewables targets are recognised at an EU level."