UK exits the EU (DEFRA preparations)

Ministerial approval is given [prior to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill Royal Assent] to the following projects – to ensure preparation for all negotiation outcomes :

(1) Delivery of a new national import control system for animals, animal products and high risk food and feed. Scheduled to commence building: mid-January 2018. Estimated cost before Royal Assent: £7m.

(2) Delivery of new IT capability to enable registration and regulation of chemical substances placed on the UK market. Scheduled to commence building: February 2018. Estimated cost before Royal Assent: £5.8m.

(3) Delivery of systems for the licensing and marketing of veterinary medicines. Scheduled to commence building: end-January 2018. Estimated cost before Royal Assent: £1.6m.

(4) Development of a new catch certificate system for UK fish and fish products being exported to the EU on Exit. Scheduled to commence: building end-January 2018. Estimated cost before Royal Assent: £1.0m.

(5) Development of a UK system to manage the quota of fluorinated gases and ozone depleting substances required under the UN Montreal Protocol. Scheduled to commence: March 2018. Estimated cost before Royal Assent: £0.5m.

(6) Development of data exchange arrangements to identify the movement of EU and third country vessels in UK waters and the movement of UK vessels in EU or third country waters. Scheduled to commence: April 2018. Estimated cost before Royal Assent: £0.1m

Note : regarding start dates – the Permanent Secretary letter is dated 18 January 2018 – here.

The Civil Service World article dated the next day confirms approval was given on the 18 January 2018 for these projects. The CSW article is here.

DEFRA announcements (England)

(1) DEFRA is consulting on a new air quality strategy – the consultation is here.

Note : House of Commons Briefing Paper (March 2018) entitled Brexit and Air Quality – here.

And European Commission refers (17 May 2018) the UK (and others) to the CJEU for infringement of EU air quality law – the press release is here.

(2) a new Tree health resilience strategy 2018 is launched – this is here.

(3) a National Parks review is announced – the press release (which links to the terms of reference) is here.

UK exits EU (environmental principles & governance)

A major role carried out by the European Court is oversight of the enforcement of European Union Treaty principles embodied in EU environmental law.

The UK authorities had announced a new body would be set up to replace the role of the European Court in this respect.

This morning, the consultation document is announced for this new body (applicable to England only). This document is here. Consultation lasts until 2 August.

The new body will be established by the Environmental Principles and Governance Bill (a Brexit bill – England) that will be brought forward in the Autumn. The consultation addresses the development of this Bill.

The consultation seeks input on some of the key questions around how environmental principles should be embedded into law, public policy-making and delivery, and what functions and powers the new environmental watchdog should have to oversee environmental law and policy.  The consultation document is set out in three parts:

Part 1 – Environmental Principles

Part 2 – Accountability for the Environment

Part 3 – Overall Environmental Governance

NOTE : this post will be UPDATED when the UK authorities respond to the consultation. If you are interested in developments, please make a note to return to this post in the Blog, a separate alert will not be sent out.

UK exits the EU (EU Notices – UK questions for UK DEFRA)

Two days ago 21st Feb the UK Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee (select committee) wrote to the UK DEFRA Secretary of State. This letter is here. The letter asks Michael Gove to seek the UK Government’s view on the EU Commission’s advice to environment and food stakeholders on preparing for a ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario.

Background

The European Commission is publishing a series of Notices setting out the consequences for trading and legal arrangements in the event that no Brexit deal is reached by 30 March 2019. I have blog posted about this and in addition to the EU Commission with its website of Notices, European Agencies such as ECHA (the European Chemicals Agency) are also issuing notices – please see my earlier Blog posts. NB: the EU Notices state unless a different date is set out and agreed in the Withdrawal Treaty, the UK is a Third Country from 30 March 2019 (and the consequences set out in the Notices, summarised below, will apply from that date).

Many are addressed to stakeholders across the food, farming and waste sectors. They state (in summary) that a variety of certifications issued by the UK will no longer be valid, that certain organisations will need an EU base or representative to continue to operate in the EU, and that some food trade exports will be prohibited unless certain steps are taken. Note also the impacts on transboundary waste movement (see an earlier Blog post of mine).

The Committee letter writes to Defra’s Secretary of State to ask:

* Whether the Government is seeking to get UK environment and food certifications recognised by the EU

* What assessment the Government has made of the impact on individuals, organisations and the UK economy of UK environment and food certification no longer being recognised, and of reapplying for certification

* What steps the Government is taking to ensure food of animal origin can be exported to the EU in a ‘no deal’ scenario

* Whether the Government intends to provide similar advice to its own citizens working in the food, farming and waste sectors.

25-yr Environment Plan (UK)

The UK issued a few moments ago, its long awaited 25-yr Environment Plan. The Plan is here.

I will update this post on the Blog here with the Plan key commitments, targets and schedules. Please note, the updates will not be sent as emails to your inbox (the original post is emailed). So make a note, to check back on the Blog post itself.

UPDATE

Pledges :

(1) eliminate avoidable plastic waste by 2042,

(2) remove exceptions in England plastic bag regulations [the latest amendment to the EU Packaging and Packing Waste Directive stipulates measures on plastic bags by end 2018, plus the European Commission’s Plastics Strategy is announced next week – I will write a separate Blog post about it],

(2)(a) consultation in a charge for single-use plastic containers,

(3) protect ancient woodland and plant more trees, a new Tree Champion to be appointed after the National Planning Policy Framework is updated,

(4) retain strong targets for wildlife, water and air,

(5) “polluter pays” and “public money for public goods” as guiding principles for future farming policy (plus subsidy reform from 2024 (2022-2024 consultation) – this may be set out in the forthcoming Brexit Agriculture Bill),

(6) sustainable drainage to make cities safer from floods – new planning guidelines,

(7) healthcare that takes advantage of green prescriptions – preventative care that can make the most of “natural health service”,

(8) nature integrated in urban communities – net nature gain in new developments (possibly via the revamp of the National Planning Policy Framework,

(9) a new Watchdog to hold government to account – a new environment body to replace the activities of the EU’s Commission and Courts (this was an earlier DEFRA announcement – see recent Blog posts – the next step is consultation),

(10) nature targets (little detail),

(11) “leave the environment in a better state than they found it”, “the goals of our 25 year environment plan are simple: clean air, clean and plentiful water, plants and animals which are thriving, and a cleaner, greener country for us all. A better world for each of us to live in and a better future for the next generation.”,

(12) a miscellany of other pledges with little attached detail.

Note : the objectives in the plan itself add relatively little to the European and international commitments the UK is already signed up to.

But : the UK is meant to achieve good ecological status for all water bodies by the mid 2020s under the EU Water Framework Directive. The commitment in this 25-yr plan to achieve good water quality “as soon as practicable” is a lesser target.

Also : there is no mention of implementation of the forthcoming EU Circular Economy amendments to six existing Waste Directives.

Plus : there is no mention of the EU “precautionary principle’, particularly relevant to chemicals.

Waste (UK)

UPDATE : DEFRA has announced it will consult on various single-use plastic bans, and on a new deposit returns system (DRS) for single-use drinks containers, including bottles and cans. Information is here.

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On 1st January 2018 China imposed a ban on the import of certain types of waste including mixed paper and post-consumer plastics (plastics thrown away by consumers). In addition, some other types of waste, including all other paper and plastics exports, will have to meet a reduced acceptable contamination level of 0.5% from March 2018.

China’s decision has a global impact, including in the UK. 3.7 million tonnes of plastic waste are created in the UK in a single year. Of that total, the UK exports 0.8 million tonnes to countries around the world, of which 0.4 million tonnes is sent to China (incl. Hong Kong). In comparison, other countries including Germany (0.6 million tonnes), Japan and the US (both 1.5 million tonnes) export more plastic to China for reprocessing than the UK. The UK also exports 3.7 million tonnes of paper waste to China (incl. Hong Kong), out of 9.1 million tonnes of paper waste in total. In comparison, the US exports 12.8 million tonnes of paper waste to China.

Today, the DEFRA Secretary outlined in a Written Statement here, the progress made on this matter.

The statement identifies that the Environment Agency has issued fresh guidance to exporters, stating that any waste which does not meet China’s new criteria will be stopped, in the same way as banned waste going to any other country. If you are exporting waste, please check the guidance you are using. If you wish this guidance to be loaded onto the EHS Legislation Registers, please let me know (it currently is not loaded).

The statement confirms Operators must continue to manage waste on their sites in accordance with the permit conditions issued by the Environment Agency (England), (presumably ditto in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). Where export markets or domestic reprocessing are not available, the process chosen to manage waste must be the one that minimises the environmental impact of treatment as fully as possible and follows the waste hierarchy. This requires operators to ensure that where waste cannot be prevented or reused it is recycled where practicable, before considering energy recovery through incineration or the last resort of disposal to landfill.

In July 2017, the DEFRA Secretary announced at the World Wildlife Fund its intention to publish a new Resources and Waste Strategy later in 2018. The Clean Growth Strategy, published on 12 October 2017, set out the ambition for zero avoidable waste by 2050 and announced that changes are being explored to the producer responsibility scheme. An earlier Blog post details the Clean Growth Strategy key elements.

In December 2017, the DEFRA Secretary chaired an industry roundtable on plastics and outlined his four point plan for tackling plastic waste: cutting the total amount of plastic in circulation; reducing the number of different plastics in use; improving the rate of recycling; supporting comprehensive and frequent rubbish and recycling collections, and making it easier for individuals to know what goes into the recycling bin and what goes into general rubbish.

Other measures (mentioned in this Statement) are :

  1. the existing 5p charge on plastic bags that has taken 9 billion bags out of circulation, reducing usage by 83%,
  2. the ban on the manufacture of personal care products containing plastic microbeads in force tomorrow 9th January 2018 (an earlier Blog post identifies this, and Email Alerts have been sent to subscribers likely to need this legislation – if you have not received this Email Alert and need the legislation, please let me know),
  3. a call for evidence (October 2017) on managing single use drinks containers – DEFRA working group will report to Ministers early in 2018,
  4. work with HMT (Treasury) on a call for evidence in 2018 to seek views on how the tax system or charges could reduce the amount of single use plastics waste, and
  5. £3bn committed by 2042 under the Waste Infrastructure Delivery Programme to support a range of facilities to keep waste out of landfill and increase recycling levels.

The Statement confirms China’s decision underlines the need for progress in all these areas, specifically waste reduction, and minimising waste export.

The Statement identifies DEFRA will set out further steps in the coming weeks and months to achieve these goals, including in the forthcoming 25 Year Environment Plan.

UK exits the EU (animal health certificates of competence)

I posted earlier on ECHA advice to UK companies, and European Commission Notices to UK Operators.

Animal health has been debated in UK Parliament as part of its consideration of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-19. Following this debate, DEFRA has issued a statement about Animal Health. This statement is here.

[A] The European Commission has issued a Notice to slaughterhouse operators holding a certificate of competence relevant to exports to the European Union. This notice is here.

(1) Certificates of competence delivered in the United Kingdom will no longer be valid in the European Union from the moment the United Kingdom becomes a third country (exit date).

(2) Slaughterhouse operators shall ensure that some operations are only carried out by persons holding a certificate of competence (exports to the European Union). This requirement also applies to animal welfare officers (vets) who are working in a slaughterhouse (exports to the European Union).

[B] The European Commission has issued a Notice to transporters of live animals to the European Union. This notice is here.

(1) Transporter authorisations granted by the competent authorities of the United Kingdom pursuant to Articles 10 or 11 of the Regulation will no longer be valid in the European Union from the moment the United Kingdom becomes a third country (exit date).

(2) Certificates of approval of means of transport, and of drivers and attendants granted by the competent authorities of the United Kingdom will no longer be valid in the European Union from the moment the United Kingdom becomes a third country (exit date).

These two notices are located here.