Published on: 17.9.2021

Information produced by Finnish Environment Institute

How are industrial emissions into waters regulated?

Emissions from industrial plants are subject to the Environmental Protection Act, which aims to prevent pollution and reduce emissions.

The Environmental Protection Act applies to activities that cause or may cause environmental pollution, including the forest, metal and chemical industries and energy production. An environmental permit must be obtained for activities listed in the Act.

Some projects must also have a water permit referred to in the Water Act. A water permit is required if the project may alter the hydrological conditions or, for example, the shores or water level of a lake or river.

Environmental and water permits for industrial activities that are significant from the perspective of environmental protection are issued by the Regional State Administrative Agency on application. An environmental permit cannot be issued if the activity may cause significant environmental pollution. The permit may contain provisions that determine the scale of the activity, restrict emissions and regulate waste and risk management. The Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment supervise compliance with the Environmental Protection Act and the Water Act in their areas.

Emissions from large industrial plants are subject to restrictions imposed in the EU Industrial Emissions Directive, under which the best available technology must be used in their operations. EU and Finnish legislation set maximum limits for the concentrations of certain substances that are hazardous and harmful to the aquatic environment.

Image: © Raimo Rosholm, Vastavalo