As stated in its website, the European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL) is an international non-profit association of the environmental authorities of the European Union Member States, acceding and candidate countries of the EU, EEA and EFTA countries.
The association is registered in Belgium and both its legal seat and its Secretariat are in Brusseles, Belgium. Currently IMPEL has 48 members from 34 countries including all EU Member States, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Albania, Iceland, Switzerland and Norway.
IMPEL was set up in 1992 as an informal Network of European regulators and authorities concerned with the implementation and enforcement of environmental law. The Network’s objective is to create the necessary impetus in the European Union to make progress on ensuring a more effective application of environmental legislation. The core of the IMPEL activities concerns awareness raising, capacity building, peer review, exchange of information and experiences on implementation, international enforcement collaboration as well as promoting and supporting the practicability and enforceability of European environmental legislation. The Association undertakes its activities primarily within a project structure.
IMPEL has developed into a considerable, widely known organisation, being mentioned in a number of EU legislative and policy documents, e.g. the Decision No 1386/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2013 on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’, laying down the Seventh Community Environment Action Programme, the Recommendation 2001/331/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 April 2001 providing for minimum criteria for environmental inspections in the Member States (RMCEI), the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on implementing European Community Environmental Law and the European Commission Impact Assessment Guidelines.
Information related to environmental inspection and enforcement in EU countries is presented here:
Due to the decentralised administrative regime present in Spain, competences on environmental inspection are mostly allocated at regional level, in each of the 17 Spanish regions. In order to harmonize inspection in the country and exchange good practices, the Environmental Inspection Network (REDIA) was created. You can read more about its creation and characteristics in the following presentations:
Over the last years, the Dutch environmental law system has seen major changes. Since 01-10-2010, the IPPC-directive is mainly implemented in the 'Law on general provisions for the environment' (Wabo) and in the Dutch Water Act. The Wabo is a law which regulates the "all-in-one permit on physical aspects". It is a procedural law which regulates the permitting system for the building and utilization of installations. The environmental part of this permit is similar to the previous system that was in place, regulated by the former Environmental management act. The Wabo has incorporated the integral environment licence that regulates all the environmental aspects of industrial plants apart from water emissions, with the licence on the basis of the Water Act for water emissions. On a number of points these Acts overlap; some articles from the Wabo apply equally to the Water Act.
In the Netherlands, IPPC-installations need an "All-in-one permit for physical aspects" which in most cases is issued by the Provinces (e.g. refineries, energy industry, basic steel production and chemical industry). In case of intensive rearing of poultry and pigs, the permits are issued by the Municipality. If an IPPC-installation discharges waste water directly into surface water, it also needs a water permit. The responsible body for the water permit can be the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat), the water board or the provincial authority. IPPC-installations may be subject to some decrees with general binding rules in addition to the licence. These are, for example, the decrees to implement the Large Combustion Plants Directive (2001/80) and the Waste Incineration Directive (2000/76).
The authority competent to issue the All-in-one Permit is responsible for enforcement of the permit and other regulations named in the Act under administrative law. In a small number of situations, mainly related to heavy industries, the provincial authority has been designated to enforce certain matters.
Requirements have been laid down to promote the quality of enforcement. The Act further regulates the minister’s supervision of performance and enforcement of the All-in-one Permit system. This overall supervision is done by the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment. For the water permit the responsible body for issuing the permit is also responsible for the enforcement of the water permit.
Dutch Knowledge Centre InfoMil
In order to give public and private stakeholders easy access to information on laws, procedures and so on, the Dutch Knowledge Centre InfoMil was established in 1995. InfoMil is the primary source of information and best practices in matters of environmental legislation and policy in The Netherlands. It is a government agency with almost 100 staff members, that serves as an intermediary between the various authorities and target groups in the Netherlands in the field of environmental permitting and enforcement. It is a neutral organisation and is part of the agency Rijkswaterstaat under the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, only working by government assignments. InfoMil works on the basis of government policy and policy instruments, such as laws, policies, decrees, regulations and guidelines. InfoMil focuses on municipalities and provinces and other authorities that are expected to implement this policy.
InfoMil provides a helpdesk, handbooks, training and workshops in environmental legislation, licensing and enforcement. IPPC implementation training is provided as well. On an international level, InfoMil participates in European networks (like IMPEL). It provides for the Dutch input and takes part in most of the technical Working Groups on BAT in Seville, functions as the Dutch BAT centre and carries responsibility for preparing IPPC-reporting to Brussels. The international department of InfoMil is active for 8 years capacity building.
Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment
Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment is responsible for the different modes of transport and for the safe and adequate accessibility of all objects, companies and houses in the country, for the safety against flooding and a good water quality in the country and for all aspects regarding the environment.
In total 13.000 people work for this Ministry, including more than 9.000 in regional executing jobs, (Rijkswaterstaat Agency) varying from airline inspector and road engineer to bridge master. The policy departments are located at the Ministry in The Hague.
Dutch Environmental Services
The Dutch Environmental Services (25) are the executive institutions on regional level. They are responsible for issuing permits and the inspection and the enforcement of the facilities that are subject to IPPC/IED. The Environmental Services execute these tasks on behalf of the 12 Provinces.
The Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (NCEA)
It is an independent advisory body of experts,that has a statutory role in the Dutch environmental assessment procedures. The NCEA advises governments on the quality of environmental information in environmental assessment reports (EIA or SEA reports). Where needed, the NCEA also advises on permitting conditions and on environmental monitoring. For both Dutch and international environmental assessment practice, the NCEA functions as a knowledge centre, with online information services, publications and a helpdesk. On behalf of the Dutch Ministry for Infrastructure and Environment, the NCEA has shared Dutch experience on environmental assessment in bilateral co-operation with several countries, including Macedonia.
The Asser Institute is a foundation with the purpose of performing and maintaining scientific research and education in the areas of international and European law. It is a non-profit organisation, primarily funded by the Dutch Ministry for Education, Culture and Science and administered through the University of Amsterdam. Staff of the Institute has civil servants employment status and are employed by the University of Amsterdam and seconded to the Asser Institute. The Asser Institute is a unique clustering of knowledge and experience in research, education and training, knowledge management and dissemination, publishing and academic community organizing. Where European environmental law is concerned, its experts have contributed to a multitude of approximation and training programmes throughout Central and Eastern Europe and at other places around the world, aimed at introducing and improving environmental legislation and its application and enforcement.
The General Inspectorate of the Agriculture, Sea, Environment and Spatial Planning (IGAMAOT) is a central authority under direct State administration endowed with administrative autonomy. It is subordinated to the Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy (MAOTE) and to the Ministry of Agriculture and Sea (MAM).
The mission of IGAMAOT is to assess the performance and the management of departments and agencies belonging to the Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy (MAOTE) and to the Ministry of Agriculture and Sea (MAM), or under the authority of their Ministers, through audit and control actions; to evaluate the proper allocation of National and European financial support and to ensure the monitoring and checking of compliance with the relevant legislation in the environmental and spatial planning areas.
The Inspectorate’s competences are the following:
- Perform with a systematic basis, audits, inspections and other measures to control the activity pursued by services and entities dependent or subordinated to the aforementioned Ministries (MAOTE and MAM);
- Perform inspections to private and public entities whose activity has environmental impact and impose measures to prevent or eliminate situations of serious danger to health, safety, people, property and the environment;
- Carry out inspection activities under the Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy and among entities within the central and local administration, in order to monitor and evaluate compliance of legality in the context of spatial planning;
- Perform specific functions of a criminal police body with respect to crimes related to the fulfillment of its mission in matters of environmental impact, notwithstanding the other entities’ powers and competences;
- Establish, instruct and decide cases of environmental administrative offense under the environmental offense framework law, as well as in other cases established in law, and issue a Notice of Violation whenever an infringement is verified;
- Conduct inquiries, investigations and other actions determined by the high level management of the Ministries;
- Advise and prepare studies on matters related with its competences;
- Participate in the preparation of the legislation;
- Monitor the financial sector at the level of the Ministries (MAOTE and MAM), within the objectives and (multi)-annual goals under the Internal Control System (SCI) of the State Financial Administration;
- Coordinate the intervention of the Ministry of Agriculture and Sea (MAM) on the National Audit System of the National Plan related with the Integrated Pluriannual Control (PNCPI) and perform external audits and evaluate the internal audit control systems implemented by the authorities and official entities related with the food security;
- Ensure national coordination and implementation of ex post controls to assistance beneficiaries funded by the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (FEAGA) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (FEADER);
- Undertake the instruction of disciplinary proceedings in departments and agencies subject to the tutelage of the aforementioned Ministries (MAOTE and MAM);
- Ensure national representation and coordination with other national authorities, with the European Commission and Member States, participate in the Community missions and establish external cooperation relationships in their fields of action.
IGAMAOT has a matrix structure and its activity is developed by projects and actions under the responsibility of multidisciplinary teams which have a functional mobility basis. It is led by one Inspector-General and 3 deputies. There are currently 16 heads of unit and 65 inspectors, 26 of which work on the environmental intervention area. The total number of workers is 132.
The Inspectorate is currently going through a profound technological modernization process involving an intervention in 3 different IT platforms: internet portal, internal management information system and the geographical information system. This project will create a new internal dynamics and it will add innovation and effectiveness to our work.
The control and inspection of the activities with environmental incidence is one of the intervention areas which are part of IGAMAOT’s matrix structure. This intervention area (CIA) is responsible for doing inspections to private or public entities in matters related with the environment, imposing the necessary measures to prevent or eliminate situations that cause a serious risk for the environment, public health, people security or property. The operationalization of this intervention area is made through the 3 following multidisciplinary teams: waste management and the metals and minerals industry team (RMM), SEVESO/REACH team and sewage and industrial emissions management team (AREI).
Other authorities with competences in environmental control in Portugal
IGAMAOT is the only national authority responsible for performing integrated environmental inspections, covering the whole range of the environmental acquis, as well as SEVESO and REACH inspections.
The Portuguese Environmental Agency (APA) is responsible for IPPC/EID permitting and for the implementation of the environmental policies regarding climate change, air pollution, EIA, waste and risk prevention. APA is also responsible for environmental education, participation and information of the public and it manages the Environment Reference Laboratory. APA has 5 Regional River Basin Authorities (ARH) which are responsible for issuing wastewater discharge permits (as well as permits for every use of river resources) and for performing control actions within that permitting competence. ARH are also responsible for the River Basin management plans and for the river basin water quality monitoring network.
There are 5 Regional Coordination and Development Committees (CCDR) which are regional waste authorities, responsible for issuing permits for non EIA waste management operators and for performing control actions within that permitting competence and also on atmospheric emissions and noise. CCDRs execute, to the level of their intervention geographical area, the policy related to the environment, spatial planning, regional development and urban requalification. These authorities also provide support to the local municipalities and its associations.
The Republican National Guard (GNR) has an environmental brigade (SEPNA). The public safety police (PSP) also has an environmental brigade (BriPas). Both environmental brigades perform control actions upon smaller installations, mainly waste management operators. SEPNA is responsible for the 24 hour environmental line call (SOS environmental call number) which is available for environmental complaints.
There is a close cooperation and joint inspections with SEPNA and BriPas within TFS activities and other joint campaigns.
Implementation of environmental inspection in Portugal
The environmental intervention area (CIA) performs routine inspections which include the integrated inspections (checking the compliance with the whole environmental acquis), SEVESO inspections, REACH inspections, follow-up inspections and inspections done under certain specific campaigns (such as TFS campaigns) and non-routine inspections which are related with complaints, institutional requests, accidents/incidents, investigations delegated by the Public Prosecutor and warrants.
All inspection activities are unannounced (except for some SEVESO inspections). When a notice of violation is issued the operator receives the report jointly with the notification of the violation. Otherwise, the report is sent to the operator as soon as it is concluded.
IGAMAOT has a database (gestigaot) which includes: inspections reports, notices of violation, notices of sampling, record of all the activities know by IGAMAOT, prosecution processes, list of infringements, link to the environmental permits and link to SIG.
Planning of inspections
IGAMAOT develops its activities according to the RMCEI (Recommendation of Minimum Criteria for Environmental Inspections) and has implemented the planning methodology described in the IMPEL Guidance Book “Doing the Right Things”. Each annual activity plan establishes multi-annual objectives with the corresponding inspection targets and performance indicators to achieve the goal of improving the environmental compliance within certain activity sectors. This annual activity plan is a strategic, public document. The inspection schedule which identifies the companies to be inspected, when and by whom is part of the inspection programme (not publicly available). In a recent past these inspection programmes were made with a monthly frequency and now they are being developed for a trimester.
The annual activity plan also includes enforcement campaigns focussed on specific areas or problematic sectors. These campaigns are concentrated in a particular time period and / or a specific geographical region / area.
One of the priorities that has been followed in the recent annual activity plans is the development of risk assessment systems to plan the activities as well as tools that will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the inspection work (such as check-lists and guidance documents).
IGAMAOT has already implemented a risk assessment to plan the IPPC/IED inspections, the inspections of urban wastewater treatment plants and to plan the REACH inspections. Risk criteria have already been developed to implement a risk assessment for the SEVESO inspections and for the inspections of waste management operators that receive waste of electric and electronic waste. The new risk assessment tool developed by IMPEL (IRAM, developed by the IMPEL project “Easytools”) has been implemented by IGAMAOT.
Training of environmental inspectors
The majority of the inspectors have a university degree.
There is a legal basis to recruit new inspectors as well as procedures for that recruitment. There is an approval after a specific training which takes place during an experimental time period (minimum 6 months training). During the first year the new inspectors perform joint inspections with senior inspectors to learn how to perform an environmental inspection.
In the beginning of each year an individual identification of training need is made and special trainings on the identified issues are promoted. Due to the current budget constraints, IGAMAOT has been promoting internal training, provided by the most experienced inspectors or heads of unit to the junior ones. In the REACH case, ECHA provides train-the trainers sessions which enable qualification of inspectors who can than give training to their colleagues.
Tools developed to support inspection activities
- Database “gestiagot” - operational since 2003. The inspectors use this database to do their inspection reports and to access all the available information about the companies and related internal processes that might exist;
- Guidance about environmental inspection;
- SEVESO Inspection Guide;
- Legal Guidance to support environmental inspections;
- Several Check lists to check safety issues of inflammable substances/liquids, liquefied gases and storage tanks of explosive substances;
- Check-list for doing inspections in landfills;
- Check-list for safety data sheets;
- Guidance about the methodology of performing noise measurements;
- Theme studies about certain industrial sectors or activities with environmental impact;
- Technical Guidance for specific sectors.
- Risk assessment systems for planning IPPC/IED inspections, urban wastewater treatment plants and REACH inspections