March 5, 2024

The European Commission wants to tighten EU rules on pollution from industry, taking aim at intensive livestock farming and the extraction of minerals including lithium, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.

The European Union is overhauling its environmental policies across all sectors as it seeks to cut planet-warming emissions 55% by 2030 from 1990 levels, and reduce the degradation of nature caused by pollution.

Brussels will next week propose an upgrade of EU rules that limit pollution from 52,000 installations, including power plants, waste treatment facilities, cement factories and livestock farms.

A draft of the proposal, seen by Reuters, would add cattle farming to the regulation, which obliges countries to only grant permits to facilities that meet standards including on waste disposal, and emission limits for gases including sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

More pig and poultry farms would also be covered, including those with at least 125 livestock units – an EU measure of farming that assigns units to animals based on their species and/or age. The current rules cover farms with more than 40,000 places for poultry, 20,000 for production pigs or 750 for sows.

The draft rules will need to be negotiated by EU countries and the European Parliament, a process that can take up to two years.

Operators whose installations breach the rules will face tougher penalties, including fines of at least 5% to 8% of their annual turnover in the country concerned, while governments will be legally obliged to ensure citizens can claim compensation for damages they suffered from such breaches.

The proposal also gives national authorities power to suspend the operations of an installation that breaches the conditions of its permit, until it complies.

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