The application of Best Available Techniques (BAT) refers to available techniques that are best for preventing or minimising emissions and reducing impacts on the environment.

Industrial process operators and environmental regulators are required to consider all the factors that influence BAT when determining and issuing permits and when regulating industrial sites, known as installations under IPPC.

EU Member States share information on BAT and emerging techniques; this information is then pooled within BAT Reference (BREF) Documents, that typically apply to the activities of specific industry sectors. The EU’s Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) has strengthened the application of BREF Documents and BAT through the creation of a section within each BREF Document, known as the BAT Conclusions. These conclusions are mirrored in legally-binding EU Decisions.

This topic describes the basis of BAT and BREFs and how these are applied, notably through the IED. While BAT applies primarily to installations that fall under that directive, the UK has applied the concept to other types of installation, such as all those under the environmental permitting and pollution prevention and control regimes.

  • In the UK, the industrial pollution control systems require the use of appropriate measures to minimise or eliminate pollution from regulated activities. Summary
  • Activities regulated under the environmental permitting regime in England and Wales, and the pollution prevention and control regimes in Scotland and Northern Ireland, are required to use the best available techniques (BAT) to minimise pollution. Definition of BAT
  • When environmental regulators determine and issue permits, they must take into account BAT for the applicable sector, and specify it within the permit. Regulatory Application of BAT
  • The European Commission produces best available technique reference documents or BREF notes. They contain best available techniques (BAT) for installations in different industry sectors. BAT Reference Documents
  • Revised BREF documents contain a summary of BAT for each sector. These are known as BAT Conclusions, which are both mirrored and reinforced through EU Decisions. BAT Reference Documents
  • The “H1 Environmental Risk Assessment” cross-sector guidance describes methodologies for assessing the environmental impacts of industrial activities; the guidance can be used to determine BAT, through the likely impacts of different options. Permit Applications and BAT
  • The concept of BAT was originally specified in the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive (96/61/EC), and carried over into the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) (2010/75/EU). Origins and Evolution of BAT
  • Following the UK’s withdrawal from EU membership, the EU Withdrawal Act 2018 ensures that existing EU environmental law will continue to have effect in UK law, including the IED and BAT Conclusion Implementing Decision made under it.