EU MINISTERS approved a deal on the revised Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) on 12 April, a crucial piece of legislation regulating environmental and health impacts from the most polluting industrial activities.

For the very first time in EU environmental legislation, the IED includes the right for victims whose health has been affected by illegal pollution to be compensated. If implemented effectively, the IED compensation right has the potential to boost compliance, reduce pollution and where necessary, ensure that affected individuals stand a true chance to seek justice in court.

ClientEarth lawyer Selin Esen said: “Today, EU ministers have sealed the deal on this hugely important law to protect people and the environment from the EU’s most polluting industrial activities. By including the first-of-its-kind compensation right in the IED, EU lawmakers are sending a signal to Member States and their courts to finally ensure that there is justice for people made sick by illegal pollution.

“To do right by people, Member States need to translate the compensation right into their national laws effectively and give courts the right tools so that the EU’s most vulnerable inhabitants are protected not just on paper, but in practice.”

However, according to ClientEarth’s lawyers, reaching the final agreement came at a significant cost for people and their health. EU lawmakers failed to include parts of the agriculture sector, in particular industrial cattle rearing within the scope of the IED – forgoing €5.5 billion per year in related health benefits through methane and ammonia emission reductions. They also weakened the rules applicable to already covered industrial pig and poultry farms.

Esen added: “The special treatment afforded to industrial cattle rearing is unjustified given its significant emissions and the sector’s dependence on a healthy environment. By continuing to exclude cattle, EU lawmakers have missed a crucial opportunity to guide the livestock sector towards reducing its emissions and future-proof its business. They chose to prioritise a small group of large industrial farms, over people’s health, and the interests of the agriculture sector as a whole.”

Following the European Parliament’s approval last month, the approval by the Council was the last step required before the new IED is published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

* Source: ClientEarth