Fire Safety Bill (England and Wales)

I posted before about the Fire Safety Bill. The current version is here.

The Queen’s Speech included a commitment to bring forward a Fire Safety Bill, its purpose being to clarify that the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the Fire Safety Order) applies to external walls (including cladding, balconies and windows) and individual flat entrance doors in multi-occupied residential buildings.

This is relevant to building owners, leaseholders or managers of multi-occupied residential buildings who are likely to be the responsible persons and who need to ensure that they have assessed the fire safety risks of the premises for which they are responsible, and have taken the necessary fire precautions as a result of that assessment.

The Fire Safety Bill also affirms Fire and Rescue Authorities have the relevant enforcement powers to hold owners or managers to account.

It complements existing powers local authorities have to take enforcement action against building owners and managers under the housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS) provided for in the Housing Act 2004 and the Building (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/1230) which came into force on 21 December 2018 and banned the use of combustible materials within the external walls, and certain attachments to the external walls, of any new building at least 18 metres in height where:

* the building contains at least one dwelling;

* the building contains certain residential accommodation for the treatment, care or maintenance of persons; and

* the building contains certain rooms used for residential purposes, including student accommodation and school dormitories.

Including such a building created by a material change of use.

The Fire Safety Bill supports the Government’s intended action to introduce secondary legislation to implement the specific recommendations made in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase One Report. The recommendations called for new legal duties on “building owners or managers of high-rise buildings” in relation to inspection and information sharing with the local Fire and Rescue Service. This includes the requirement for building owners or managers to share information with their local Fire and Rescue Service about the design of its external walls and details of the materials from which they are constructed and to undertake regular inspections of individual flat entrance doors.

The Fire Safety Bill is now ready for Royal Assent today 29 April.

When published, it will be consolidated into the existing 2005 Fire Safety Order and added to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists (England, Wales, and England & Wales).

The secondary legislation is likely to be of interest.

Trade Deals status (UK)

The UK is entering into bi-lateral trade arrangements following its exit from the European Union. The current status is here. Note the conformity assessment arrangements in MRAs.

The UK and Australia announced a few days ago, a trade deal would be agreed shortly, likely June.

The UK Department for International Trade gave an update on the UK-Australia FTA on 15 March – here.

I will issue a new blog post when the UK-Australia FTA text is published.

European Climate Law (EU)

I blog posted before (in December) about the EU’s proposal for a European Climate Law. On 21 April, the EU’s co-legislators reached provisional agreement on the matter.

The European Climate Law will contain the EU’s commitment to reaching climate neutrality by 2050 and the intermediate target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

Once this provisional agreement is formally approved by Parliament and Council, the European Climate Law will be published in the Official Journal of the Union and will enter into force.

Further information is here.

SPS Export Health Certificates from April 21 (EU)

I posted before about the new EU Animal Health Law (Regulation (EU) 2016/429) that comes into force on April 21. This document is here.

The new EU Animal Health Law (AHR) is a large and complex Regulation designed to consolidate, update and replace a number of existing Regulations.

The main change is the new model export health certificates (EHCs) in use from April 21. EHCs are required for third country import into the EU.

AT THE SAME TIME, April 21 is the date for new rules for entry into the EU of composite products.

Including those for composites, a total of five new EHCs are needed from 21 April. These include three new products of animal origin (POAO) EHCs, two new composite EHCs and a private attestation document for composites exempt from certification. In the UK, private attestations do not need to be signed by an Official Veterinarian (OV) or Food Competent Certifying Officer (FCCO).

The three new POAO EHCs include meat of certain wild game and farmed large game and mechanically separated pork meat.

The two new composite product EHCs are –

a. Entry into the EU (or Northern Ireland) of not shelf-stable composite products and shelf stable composite products, containing any quantity of meat products (except gelatine, collagen and highly refined products) and intended for human consumption; and,

b. Transit through the EU to a third country either by immediate transit or after storage in the Union of not shelf-stable composite products and shelf-stable composite products containing any quantity of meat products and intended for human consumption.

Article 12 of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 2019/625 (delegated rules to a DIFFERENT Regulation (EU) No 2017/625, the Official Controls Regulation) establishes three categories of composite products (applicable from April 21):

(1) non shelf-stable composite products,

(2) shelf-stable composite products that contain any quantity of meat products, except gelatine, collagen and highly refined products, and

(3) shelf-stable composite products that do not contain meat products, except gelatine, collagen and highly refined products.

Note: the EU Official Controls Regulation itself has applied since 14 December 2019.

With a view to smoothen the transition, Article 35 of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 2020/2235 introduces a period of six months (to 20 October 2021) for the imports of composite products during which the old certificate will be accepted to enter the Union. Where no certificate was required prior to 21 April 2021, then the new relevant certificate or private attestation must be provided.

What is not a composite product?

The addition of a product of plant origin during the processing defined in Article 2(1)(m) of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 of an animal product does not automatically mean that the resulting food falls within the definition of composite products. If such addition does not modify the main characteristics of the final product, the latter is not a composite product. It can be to add special characteristics or necessary for the manufacture of the product of animal origin (Article 2(1)(o) of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004).

For instance, a cheese to which herbs are added or a yogurt to which fruit is added remain dairy products. Similarly, canned tuna to which vegetable oil is added remains a fishery product. These foodstuffs must be produced in approved establishments in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 853/2004.

What percentage of a processed product of animal origin makes a food subject to the rules applicable to composite products?

What makes foodstuff subject to the rules applicable to the composite products is the fact that it is made by both products of vegetable origin and processed products of animal origin. The percentage of processed product of animal origin included in the composite product is irrelevant.

The above is taken from the EU Q&A on composite products – here.

These changes create a high impact on food trade between the UK and the EU.

From April 21, any composite product containing meat products (except gelatine, collagen and highly refined products) is subject to EU Border Control Post (BCP) (or Points of Entry (PoE) for Northern Ireland) checks and requires an EHC.

Chilled/frozen composite products containing processed dairy/egg/fish require EU BCP/PoE checks and an EHC.

Shelf stable composite products containing processed dairy/egg/fish (where the dairy or egg components meet certain heat treatment requirements) require a private attestation and EU BCP/PoE checks unless they are on the EU’s list of lower risk products.

The UK has updated its composites products guidance – here.

APHA (a DEFRA agency) has produced guidance on the April 21 changes – here.

It will be noted that guidance in the EU and the UK is not yet updated in all areas.

The EU is yet to publish the final EHCs for live animals and germinal products that will be used under the AHR. All EU EHCs and Notes for Guidance are being updated to reflect the new rules by August 2021. Only those needed for use by traders from 21 April will be available from April on EHC Online (EHCO), with the remainder uploaded and available by August 2021.