UK Border 2020 : preparedness (UK)

Civil service evidence given to MPs (select committee) yesterday expresses growing confidence that — contrary to recent predictions from industry groups — preparations would be completed on time for the new UK-EU trade border that will come into force on January 1, including computer systems, lorry parks, customs agents and vets required to complete export declarations to the EU.

The link is here.

Alex Chisholm, the permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office said that “huge advances” had been made in preparations since research was conducted for a damning National Audit Office report published earlier this month which predicted the UK was likely to face “widespread disruption”.

The sole Red designation is “Trader Readiness”, particularly amongst small traders.

Nonetheless, Export Health Certificates are an acknowledged cost, for GB to NI agrifood movement, and some items (bans) remain “in conversation with the EU”, as does “At Risk” tariff bearing goods, for those movements.

Chemicals firms trading in the GB market also face costs with reregistration in UK REACH, and further time (up to 6 yrs for small tonnages) is being given by government for data extract from EU database (see the Chemicals section of the Brexit Guidance List in subscriber’s EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists).

We (at Cardinal Environment Limited) have now commenced populating the new EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists that will go live on 1st January 2021. A further update will be in the November Email Alert.

Office for Product Safety and Standards (UK from 1st Jan)

The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) has published guidance for businesses in Great Britain (GB) and separately in Northern Ireland (NI).

The guidance is issued separately (for GB and NI) – here – for the following –

(1) General Product Safety

(2) ATEX

(3) Cosmetics

(4) Electrics and electronics

(5) Gas appliances

(6) Lifts

(7) Machinery

(8) Metrology (weights and measures)

(9) Outdoor equipment

(10) Pressure equipment

(11) Recreational craft

(13) Toys

Guidance (Brexit) in these areas was issued in earlier years, but these documents are a fresh issue, and will be added imminently to the Brexit Guidance List in subscribers’ EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists online.

The Implementation or Transition Period officially ends at 11pm on 31 December 2020; therefore references to 1 January 2021 should be read as meaning 11pm on 31st December 2020.

Great Britain

The Product Safety and Metrology etc. (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, and other Brexit Law, that are being consolidated into domestic law – the Brexit Consolidated Law List in subscribers’ EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists) are also amended by the Product Safety and Metrology etc. (Amendment etc.) (UK(NI) Indication) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 – which are not yet approved by Parliament.

This (as yet not approved amendment) provides for a 24 month transition period for importer labelling (for goods from the EEA), and the UKCA marking. It also amends the definition of “authorised representative” as well as introduces an end (in 12 months from the end of the Transition Period) to the recognition of goods meeting EU requirements, as well as introduces provisions for qualifying Northern Ireland goods.

Northern Ireland

Only a few of these guides are yet published.

Office for Environmental Protection (England & UK)

I Blog posted before about the new environmental regulator that will be set up, operating in England and possibly also in Northern Ireland. This regulator is termed the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP – see the OEP category in the Blog subject archive online) and is provided for by the Environment Bill, that has restarted its progress.

Since it is not expected the Environment Bill will become law by the 1st January 2021, yet the new regulator is required then, an Interim Environmental Governance Secretariat will be set up by DEFRA to be hosted within DEFRA. This Secretariat will operate from 1st January 2021 until the OEP can begin its statutory functions following the passage and Royal Assent of the Environment Bill. The interim arrangements will support the Chair of the OEP once he/she has been engaged following the regulated public appointments process which is already at an advanced stage. The interim Secretariat will operate under the guidance of both the Chair and the other Board members when they have been confirmed in post, initially on a designate basis if needed ahead of Royal Assent of the Bill.

The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) is established through the Bill as a new, independent, public body which will be legally separate from the Crown. The interim arrangements, are non-statutory, are introduced because of the delay in the Bill’s passage. The DEFRA Secretary of State asserts the interim arrangements need only to operate for a limited time period. The interim Secretariat will operate as a specific, dedicated team within the Environmental Governance Division in DEFRA. While the Secretariat is not legally the same as the Office for Environmental Protection, it is intended to be a precursor to it, exercising some functions on a non-statutory basis in the interim period, and transitioning to and paving the way for the permanent body to deliver its full, statutory functions.

In its preparatory role, the Secretariat will create draft documents and processes to hand over for further development and adoption by the OEP, for example in relation to its strategy and working framework.

As regards its interim delivery function, the Secretariat will have two main areas of responsibility.

(1) it will receive and assess complaints submitted by members of the public about alleged failures of public authorities to comply with environmental law. The Secretariat will check the complaints against the criteria specified in the Environment Bill to determine if they will fall within the remit of possible investigation by the OEP, interacting with the relevant complainants and public authorities to gather further information where necessary to determine these facts. It will assess the information received and pass it on to the OEP once established, so that the permanent body can determine which complaints to consider further through the exercise of its legal functions including formal investigations and enforcement.

(2) the interim arrangements will provide for continuity and handover of the technical work currently undertaken by the Natural Capital Committee and its Secretariat in relation to monitoring progress in implementing the 25 Year Environment Plan, which will become the first statutory Environmental Improvement Plan under the Bill.

The interim Secretariat derives its non-statutory ability and remit to act from the Secretary of State, and the team will be formally managed and governed within DEFRA.

The government plan is to identify and announce the DEFRA Secretary of State’s preferred candidate for the Chair of the Office for Environmental Protection before the end of 2020, for appointment as Chair-designate (before the Bill’s Royal Assent) after the joint EFRA and EAC (select committee) hearing in December. Once the Chair-designate is in post, he/she will be supported by and provide leadership to the interim Secretariat. The Secretariat will report to the Chair-designate on matters such as the numbers and subject areas of complaints received, including any significant issues that emerge and any lessons learned for the OEP.

An interim Board will not be appointed to support the Chair-designate. As well as being at an advanced stage of the public appointments process for the Chair campaign, DEFRA is also currently moving ahead with plans to identify the OEP’s other Non-Executive Directors and additionally to recruit an Interim Chief Executive Officer. These will allow the Board of the Office for Environmental Protection to become quorate soon after the Bill receives Royal Assent.

The OEP’s remit will cover England and matters that are not devolved (termed reserved matters). It will be able to investigate and enforce potential breaches of English environmental law and of reserved areas of environmental law. The interim Secretariat will have the same remit in respect of its initial, non-statutory functions.

If the Secretariat receives a complaint that is about another part of the United Kingdom and is not concerned with a reserved matter, they will refer it to the relevant devolved government for consideration.

This means that remit of the Secretariat (and the OEP) in Scotland and Wales will be limited, triggered when the UK Government or public bodies are exercising reserved functions in those locations. The Secretariat (and the OEP) will operate in Northern Ireland if Northern Ireland’s Ministers agree.

DEFRA officials are in contact with their counterparts in Northern Ireland as they consider whether and how any similar interim arrangements might operate there. This is a matter for Northern Ireland’s Ministers to determine.

DEFRA officials plan to discuss the interim arrangements with Welsh Government and would be pleased to do likewise with colleagues in Scottish Government.

A new Scottish watchdog, Environmental Standards Scotland, will be set up (posts are advertised).

Further information on the OEP is here.

Details of Scotland’s Advertisement are found here.

Environment Bill (UK)

The Environment Bill has come out of hibernation and is scheduled to have its House of Commons Committee Stage today, 3rd November.

This very wide reaching and important Bill is a re-introduction (with some changes) of the Environment Bill introduced by the previous administration, but not enacted.

I Blog posted in 2019 about it. To reprise – the Environment Bill comprises two thematic halves. The first provides a legal framework for environmental governance, including setting up the Office for Environmental Protection – the OEP (the new additional regulator in England, and Northern Ireland). The second makes provision for specific improvement of the environment, including measures on waste and resource efficiency, air quality and environmental recall, water, nature and biodiversity, and conservation covenants.

The Bill also makes further Brexit changes to REACH Legislation.

The Bill is a very lengthy document – an unofficial version of tracked changes (from the earlier Bill) is here.

Re the OEP – the government has tabled its own amendment to the bill to enable it to guide the OEP how to use its enforcement powers. Note, with the current Bill drafting, the government will itself choose the people in charge of the OEP – the chair and the board.

Depending on the rate of progress, I will commence reprising the earlier Blog posts I wrote, and adding new ones.

F-Gases and ODS (Northern Ireland from 1 Jan 2021)

DEFRA has today, 15 Oct, issued stipulations for F-Gases and ODS in Northern Ireland – here.

After the end of the transition period, EU regulations will continue to apply to all businesses in Northern Ireland who produce, supply, import, export or use F gases or ODS.

This means two changes for businesses in Northern Ireland:

• Businesses who import and supply the Northern Ireland market with F gases or equipment containing F gas will need to have enough EU quota/authorisations to cover their imports from Great Britain, if they do not already have this. Engineers and end-users, such as equipment manufacturers, installers and supermarkets, working with F gas should ensure they get their F gas from someone that has EU quota.

• F gas and ODS technicians in Northern Ireland will need to qualify for an Irish certificate if they are to continue working in the Republic of Ireland from January 2021. However, they will be able to continue to work in Northern Ireland with their current certificate.

The new free-to-use Trader Support Service will provide support and guidance to businesses moving goods under the Northern Ireland Protocol. Businesses who sign up to the Trader Support Service will be guided through the new processes under the Northern Ireland Protocol and can also use it to complete digital declarations.

Please also read the stipulations that apply to GB, including GB quotas, set out in separate instructions – here.

F-Gases and ODS (GB from 1st Jan 2021)

I posted a few days ago with the stipulations if exports to the EU are rejected. Today, 15th Oct, DEFRA and the Environment Agency issued full instructions on the regulations that will apply in England, Scotland and Wales (Great Britain – GB), for F-Gases and ODS from 1st Jan 2021.

The updated webpage is here.

GB will continue to:

• restrict ODS

• use the same schedule as the EU to phase down HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons, the most common type of F gas) by 79% by 2030 relative to a 2009 to 2012 baseline

That means new GB F gas quotas will follow the same phase down steps as the EU:

• limited to 63% of the baseline in 2019 and 2020

• reducing to 45% of the baseline in 2021

Most of the rules for F gas and ODS will not change. However, new GB IT systems will need to be used to:

• manage new GB quotas

• report on use

EU regulations will still apply for F gas, ODS and products containing them placed on the EU and Northern Ireland market after 1 January 2021.

The Environment Agency will administer the GB system on behalf of England, Scotland and Wales, if it receives the direction of the Scottish and Welsh Governments, from 1 January 2021.

Businesses preparing for 1 January 2021 should continue to work with the Environment Agency to register on the GB system and apply for GB quotas.

Please read the entire webpage, as the above is only part of the stipulations.

Industrial Emissions (BAT) (GB from 1st Jan 2021)

Yesterday, 14 Oct, the UK government issued a short guidance note on EU BAT (Best Available Techniques) from 1st Jan 2021 – here.

This confirms the UK will no longer be part of the EU-Sevilla BATC (binding BAT Conclusions) document production process from 1st Jan 2021.

The UK government note states

it would make secondary legislation to ensure the existing BAT Conclusions continue to have effect in UK law after we leave the EU, to provide powers to adopt future BAT Conclusions in the UK and ensure the devolved administrations maintain powers to determine BAT through their regulatory regimes.

The UK government will put in place a process for determining future UK BAT Conclusions for industrial emissions. This would be developed with the devolved administrations and competent authorities across the UK. The UK government’s Clean Air Strategy for England sets out actions for determining future UK Best Available Techniques for industrial emissions.

The note makes no mention of Northern Ireland, where via the Withdrawal Agreement Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol, the EU Industrial Emissions Directive, and the EU BATC process would stay applicable in Northern Ireland.

F-Gases and ODS (GB from 1st Jan 2021)

I posted before about F-Gases and ODS after the Transition Period.

On 8 October, DEFRA and the Environment Agency (hitherto the lead agency for the UK in this matter) issued a major update – here.

Reporting F gas activity

F gas activities must be reported each year where a person –

• produces, imports or exports one or more metric tonnes of F gas, or a quantity of F gas equivalent to 100 tonnes or more of CO2

• destroys F gas equivalent to one metric tonne or 1,000 tonnes or more of CO2

• uses F gas as feedstock equivalent to 1000 tonnes or more of CO2

• places pre-charged products and equipment containing the equivalent of 500 tonnes or more of CO2 on the market.

A person must report F gas activities from 1 Jan 2020 to 31 December 2020 to the European Commission by 31 March 2021. This is a Transition Period obligation.

HFC exports rejected at an EU border control post (BCP) – new

If HFC exports from GB to EU (and Northern Ireland) are rejected at a BCP and need to return to GB free circulation status for the goods in GB will need to be regained.

This applies to both HFCs in bulk and in products and equipment.

To regain free circulation status the HFCs must comply with clearance processes, a person must:

• have a full customs declaration

• be registered on the GB HFC registry

• have sufficient HFC quota authorisations or delegations at the time of re-entry

The Environment Agency will administer the GB HFC systems on behalf of England, Scotland and Wales, subject to receiving the direction of the Scottish and Welsh Governments, from 1 January 2021.

The National Clearance Hub (NCH) will check the customs declaration against the HFC Registry. If the person has sufficient quota or authorisations, they will give permission for the goods to move on from the GB port of re-entry.

A person’s HFCs may not be able to re-enter GB if that person:

• is not on the HFC Registry

• does not have sufficient quota or authorisations

NCH will instruct Border Force to stop and detain the consignment at the border when returning from an EU BCP.

NCH or Border Force and the regulator will check the consignment and decide how to deal with the returned HFCs.

The regulator is:

• Environment Agency in England

• Scottish Environmental Protection Agency in Scotland

• Natural Resources Wales in Wales

The HFCs may be destroyed.

Reporting ODS activity

ODS activities must be reported if a person –

• produces, imports or exports ODS

• destroys ODS

• uses ODS as feedstock or process agent

A person must report ODS activities for 1 Jan 2020 to 31 December 2020 to the European Commission by 31 March 2021. This is a Transition Period obligation.

ODS exports rejected by an EU border control post – new

If ODS exports from GB to EU (and Northern Ireland) are rejected at a EU border control post (BCP) and need to return to GB! free circulation status for the goods in GB will need to be re-attained.

To regain free circulation status the ODS must comply with clearance processes.

A person must –

• have a full customs declaration

• be registered on the GB ODS licensing system

• hold sufficient ODS quota

• have a valid ODS import licence at the time of re-entry

The Environment Agency will administer the GB ODS system on behalf of England, Scotland and Wales, subject to receiving the direction of the Scottish and Welsh Governments from 1 January 2021.

The National Clearance Hub (NCH) will check the customs declaration against the ODS licensing system.

ODS may not be able to re-enter GB if:

• the person is not on the ODS Licensing System

• the consignment does not have a valid ODS import licence

NCH will instruct Border Force to stop and detain the consignment at the border when returning from an EU BCP.

NCH or Border Force and the regulator will check the consignment and decide how to deal with the returned ODS.

The regulator is:

• Environment Agency in England

• Scottish Environmental Protection Agency in Scotland

• Natural Resources Wales in Wales

The ODS may be destroyed.

GB-EU Border Operating Model (GB from 1st Jan 2021)

I posted about the Border Operating Model before. New border controls for entry to GB from the EU will operate in three stages up until 1 July 2021.

Only the Border Operating model for the Great Britain (GB) border with the European Union (EU) is yet published.

A further major update is published to the GB-EU Border Operating Model (138 pages) – here (dated 8 Oct 2020) – further changes from now on are expected to be minor only.

The updated GB-EU Border Operating Model:

• Maps out the intended locations of inland border infrastructure. These sites will provide additional capacity to carry out checks on freight.

• Announces that passports will be required for entry into the UK from October 2021 as the Government phases out the use of EU, EEA and Swiss national identity cards as a valid travel document for entry to the UK.

• Confirms that a Kent Access Permit will be mandatory for HGVs using the short strait channel crossings in Kent. A ‘Check an HGV’ service will allow hauliers to check if they have the correct customs documentation and obtain a Kent Access Permit.

The full list of changes since the July publication is below –

• Details of the new infrastructure requirements including locations;

• Updates in a number of agrifood and environmental policy areas including fish,
chemicals, fluorinated greenhouse gases and ozone-depleting substances, high-
priority plants and plant products;

• Further detail on delayed customs declarations and the requirements of Entry in Declarants Records (EIDR);

• Further details regarding the approach to liabilities for intermediaries;

• Information on what ‘poor compliance history’ means;

• Clarity on guarantees and DDA requirements;

• Bulk import reduced data set details;

• Further clarity on level of checks applying to goods subject to sanitary and
phytosanitary controls in July 2021;

• The ”Check an HGV is Ready to Cross the Border” Service (formerly referred to as Smart Freight);

• Refreshed process maps to reflect where greater detail is now available;

• A number of new annexes including passengers policies, requirements for
aviation, rail and energy sectors; and

• Updated annexes regarding Member State requirements.

Food and Drink Labelling (UK from 1st Jan 2021)

Food and drink producers, manufacturers, retailers and suppliers in Great Britain (GB) must change labels if dealing with the EU from 1 January 2021.

The DEFRA instruction – here – is to contact the EU importer to find out how the EU’s labelling requirements will affect a particular GB export product from 1 Jan 2021.

In the Withdrawal Agreement, a good is ‘placed on the market’ in the EU, when it is first supplied for distribution, consumption, or commercial use, whether free of charge or not.

All food placed on the EU market from 1 January 2021 will need to meet EU rules.

Food business operator (FBO) address

Pre-packaged food and caseins must have an EU or Northern Ireland (NI) address for the FBO, or an address of the EU or NI importer on the packaging or food label.

EU organic logo

The EU organics logo must not be used from 1 January 2021 unless:

• the UK control body is authorised by the EU to certify UK goods for export to the EU

• the UK and the EU agree to recognise each other’s standards (called ‘equivalency’)

Contact the control body to stay up to date.

If the UK and the EU do not reach an equivalency deal, organic food cannot be exported (from GB) to the EU and be labelled organic. Food can still be exported using non-organic labelling if it meets all other marketing standards and any organic labelling is removed or covered.

EU emblem

The EU emblem must not be used on goods produced in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) from 1 January 2021 unless authorised by the EU to do so.

Health and Identifcation Marks (food products of animal origin – POAO)

Information on POAO health and identification marks that apply from 1st Jan 2021 is here.

Country of origin labels

Food from and sold in NI can continue to use ‘origin EU’ from 1 January 2021.

Food from and sold in GB can be labelled as ‘origin EU’ until 30 September 2022.

From 1 October 2022, food from GB must not be labelled as ‘origin EU’.

Please read further in the DEFRA instruction for specifics of particular animal products, and the use of geographical indicators.