Any industrial or agricultural operation likely to create risks or cause pollution or nuisance, notably in terms of local residents’ health and safety, is a classified installation.

Activities under the classified installations legislation are listed in a nomenclature imposing a permit or declaration system depending on the significance of the risks or inconvenience which may be caused :

- Declaration : for the less polluting and hazardous activities. A simple declaration to the Prefecture is required
- Permit : for installations with higher risks or pollution. The operator should submit an application for a permit before start-up, demonstrating risk acceptability. The Prefect may authorise or refuse the operation.

The nomenclature of classified installations is divided into two categories :

- use or storage of certain substances (e.g. toxic substances, substances hazardous to the environment…).
- type of activity (e.g. : food processing activities, wood, waste…) ;

The legislation of classified installations provides the State with the following power :

- to authorise or refuse the operation of an installation ;
- regulation (enforce certain technical requirements, authorise or refuse the operation of an installation) ;
- monitor ;
- sanction.

Under the authority of the Prefect, these operations are entrusted to the Inspectorate of classified installations, made up of sworn State officials.

Legislative and regulatory references :

- book V of the environmental code
- decree of 21 September 1977 codified to book V, regulatory section
- “risks” act of 30 July 2003 (codified)
- “air” act of 30 December 1996 (codified)
- IPPC directive 2008/1/CE
- SEVESO II directive of 9 December 1996