UK Chemicals Regulation (UK Brexit)

Exit day is 31st October 2019

I posted before on UK Chemicals Regulation after UK Exit. This is a reminder post.

On the 25th March, HSE (the UK REACH chemicals regulator) published further instructions on access to UK REACH – here.

[the UK documents endlessly refer to a “Deal” – this is the Withdrawal Agreement, and for our purposes merely provides a new Exit day of 31st December 2020, not new trade arrangements with the EU]

These HSE instructions make it clear the online service ‘Comply with UK REACH’ will replace ECHA’s REACH-IT platform for UK REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), from Exit day.

Live on Exit day, the new online system will allow:

* Businesses that have existing UK-held REACH registrations to validate their registrations (‘grandfathering’)

* Businesses that import chemicals from the EEA to submit downstream user import notifications

* Business to register new substance registrations or PPORD notifications (Product and Process Orientated Research and Development)

In order to minimise disruption to in the event of a no-deal Brexit, businesses that currently hold a REACH registration are encouraged to access their ECHA REACH-IT account and ensure that all the information relating to their business is downloaded. Information required to comply with UK REACH includes registration confirmation documents and ECHA decisions.

Under the new requirements, from Exit day –

* UK businesses that manufacture a chemical (those currently registered to EU REACH) will need to validate their existing registration with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) within 120 days of the UK leaving the EU.

* UK businesses that import a chemical substance from the EU will need to notify HSE within 180 days of the UK leaving the EU.

* UK businesses that export chemicals to the EU will need to have an EU REACH registration in place once the UK leaves the EU.

In addition, more technical information will need to be submitted by businesses to HSE within two years of EU Exit.

Current HSE instructions are here.

[the Exit day may change, please continue to follow this Blog]

Single-Use Plastics Ban (EU)

In legal text (a Directive) adopted 27th March 2019, the European Parliament decided to address the matter of single-use plastics as follows :

(1) Single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers to be banned by 2021

(2) 90% collection target for plastic bottles by 2029

(3) More stringent application of the “polluter pays” principle

Specifically the following Products will be banned in the EU by 2021 :

* Single-use plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons and chopsticks)

* Single-use plastic plates

* Plastic straws

* Cotton bud sticks made of plastic

* Plastic balloon sticks

* Oxo-degradable plastics and food containers and expanded polystyrene cups

Member states will have to achieve a 90% collection target for plastic bottles by 2029, and plastic bottles will have to contain at least 25% of recycled content by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

The Directive will also strengthen the application of the polluter pays principle, in particular for tobacco, by introducing extended responsibility for producers. This new regime will also apply to fishing gear, to ensure that manufacturers, and not fishermen, bear the costs of collecting nets lost at sea.

In addition, the legal text agreed stipulates that labelling on the negative environmental impact of throwing cigarettes with plastic filters in the street should be mandatory, as well as for other products such as plastic cups, wet wipes and sanitary napkins.

The Directive now needs to be approved by the Council of Ministers before it enters EU law later this year. Member States will have two years to transfer the legislation into national law.

The Press Release (European Commission) is here.

I will load the Directive (once in law) into subscribers’ Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists.

Glyphosate (UK)

In 2017, the EU decided to renew (for a further five years) the licence that permits the herbicide Glyphosate to be marketed and used in the EU28. I have posted before about this (but it was a while back).

Glyphosate is marketed as Roundup by the US agrochemical company Monsanto.

One UN study called the chemical “probably carcinogenic”, but other scientists said it was safe to use.

The UK was among the EU member states in favour of glyphosate renewal. Germany and Poland were also among them – though they had previously abstained.

France and Belgium were among the states that voted against. Portugal abstained. President Macron said after the decision that France would ban Glyphosate as soon as alternatives are found, and within three years at the latest.

The EU Commission said the current proposal on the weedkiller “enjoys the broadest possible support by the member states while ensuring a high level of protection of human health and the environment”.

Glyphosate was introduced by Monsanto in 1974, but its patent expired in 2000, and now the chemical is sold by various manufacturers.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer in humans.

Some countries and regions have banned glyphosate use in public parks and gardens. Its effect on plants is non-selective, meaning it will kill most of them when applied.

The European Commission says that besides EFSA, the European Chemicals Agency and other scientific bodies found no link to cancer in humans.

The Soil Association says glyphosate traces are regularly found in bread.

Since the EU decision, a US court has ordered Monsanto to pay one user a substantive sum in damages after he developed cancer, a second case in a different US court also ordered a substantive sum in damages, and further cases are before the US courts in different places.

As a result, Councils across the UK are examining whether to take action. This Guardian article summarises – here.

The current Government guidance is under review.

HSE is the UK regulator responsible for plant protection products (pesticides and herbicides) following Brexit – their online information is here.

Water Abstraction Plan (UK)

UPDATE : the DEFRA Report to Parliament (see timeline below) is here

The UK Government has a Water Abstraction Plan. This was updated on 11th April 2019 – here.

I posted before about this.

Most businesses taking more than 20,000 litres of water a day directly from rivers or groundwater require an abstraction licence.

The Plan states that the current approach to managing abstraction has three main issues:

* some older licences allow abstraction that can damage the environment

[and indeed the decision in what became the Catfield Fen test case established this – see this useful Blog account of the issues and what happened – here]

* the current approach is not flexible enough to cope with the pressures of increasing demand for water and climate change in the long term, or to allow abstractors access to additional water when it is available

* the abstraction service is outdated and paper-based

The Plan document states – The Government published a range of approaches to address these issues in January 2016 following formal consultation. This plan explains how these will be implemented over the coming years. Our approach to addressing these issues has three main elements:

(1) making full use of existing regulatory powers and approaches to address unsustainable abstraction and move around 90% of surface water bodies and 77% of groundwater bodies to the required standards by 2021

(2) developing a stronger catchment focus – bringing together the Environment Agency, abstractors and catchment groups to develop local solutions to existing pressures and to prepare for the future. These local solutions will:

* protect the environment by changing licences to better reflect water availability in catchments and reduce the impact of abstraction

* improve access to water by introducing more flexible conditions that support water storage, water trading and efficient use

(3) supporting these reforms by modernising the abstraction service, making sure all significant abstraction is regulated and bringing regulations in line with other environmental permitting regimes

The Plan document states – We will report to parliament by May 2019 on progress made on abstraction reform.

The Plan document states – the Environment Agency will publish updated abstraction licensing strategies for 10 catchments by 2021.

The Plan document states – We are planning to move abstraction and impoundment regulations into the environmental permitting regulations. The move will provide a more modern and consistent legal framework for the day to day management of abstraction. We expect to consult on the detail of the move in early 2020.

The Plan document key milestones :

• January 2018 – start testing digital abstraction licences

• January 2018 to 31 December 2019 – application process for previously exempt abstractors open

• April 2018 – Environment Agency begins work in 4 priority catchments to test the approaches to improve access to water and begin to address local pressures

• By end of 2018 – Environment Agency to have revoked around 600 unused abstraction licences

• During 2019 – Defra reports to parliament demonstrating progress on abstraction reform

• By end 2019 – majority of licences available digitally and approach to submitting records online is improved

• Early 2020 – consult on moving water resources licensing to Environmental Permitting Regulations

• 2020 – Environment Agency publish 4 updated abstraction licensing strategies from initial catchments

• March 2020 – Environment Agency completes restoring sustainable abstraction programme

• 2021 – Environment Agency publish an additional 6 updated abstraction licensing strategies

• 2021 – 2,300 time limited licences reviewed by 2021

• 2021 – Environment Agency will report on progress against environmental targets

• 2021 – abstraction licences become environmental permits (subject to consultation)

• 31 December 2022 – all previously exempt abstractions will be permitted

• By 2027 – Environment Agency will have updated all abstraction licensing strategies

Following Catfield, and in accordance with this Plan, the Environment Agency has begun reviewing and withdrawing time limited abstraction licences in the Fens.

Climate Change Measures (UK Brexit)

Exit day is 31st October 2019

The UK Government has a Technical notice setting out instructions in relation to the EU ETS, the replacement Carbon Emissions Tax, and Energy-using Products. I have posted in the Blog about this before.

This Technical notice is here.

The Technical notice is updated to set out the changes following the next Exit day of 31st October.

* The 2018 compliance deadline to surrender allowances for the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is now 30 April 2019.

* The Carbon Emissions Tax did not commence on 15 April 2019. The Technical notice states further information on the implications of the change of Exit day for carbon pricing will be set out in due course.

[the Exit day may change, please continue to follow this Blog]

GM Food & Animal Feed Products Export (UK Exit)

The Exit day is 31st October 2019 (the UK Statutory Instrument is now laid)

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has updated its Notice aimed specifically at UK businesses:

* holding or seeking authorisations for genetically modified (GM) food or feed

* holding or seeking authorisations for animal feed additives

* exporting animal feed products to the EU

* that have applications to update the list of feed for particular nutritional purposes (PARNUTS) pending at the time of EU exit

* that represent companies that are based in non-EU countries which rely on UK representation for EU trade

Rules from 31 October 2019

Businesses within the scope of this notice will need to be established in the EU or EEA, or have a representative that is established in the EU or EEA if they wish to trade in the EU. The EEA includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

The role of the representative is to provide assurance that the non-EU establishment complies with EU legislation.

The Notice sets out what businesses need to do – here.

Information requests and questions may be emailed to the Food Standards Agency: euexit@food.gov.uk.

[the Exit day may change, in addition the Withdrawal Agreement may be ratified, please keep following this Blog]