Environment Bill (announced additions) (UK)

The long awaited and highly significant Environment Bill is revived in the current Parliament session. I Blog posted earlier that it would be.

The UK government has made 3 announcements in May –

(1) new legal duties on water companies and the government will be inserted to reduce sewage discharged into waterways – announcement is here

(2) a new additional legally binding target for species abundance for 2030 will be inserted – George Eustice Speech is here

Environmental targets in the Bill are summarised in the October 2020 updated August 2020 policy paper – here.

(3) a new power will be taken to refocus the Habitats Regulations – see George Eustice Speech

[The George Eustice Speech also makes further announcements on consultation and strategy publication in the areas of Nature, Peat and Trees.]

The Bill, as we see it now, was originally revived from the previous May Government after the 2019 general election.

In 2020, the majority of the 2019-2020 Bill provisions were substantially the same as its predecessor, although a number of minor technical changes had been made to the drafting. The substantive additions to the Bill (at the start of 2020) were :

• a requirement on Ministers to make a statement to Parliament setting out the effect of new primary environmental legislation on existing levels of environmental protection (Clause 19); and

• a requirement on the Secretary of State to conduct a two-yearly review of the significant developments in international legislation on the environment, and to publish a report on their findings every two years (Clause 20).

The Commons Library analysed the Environment Bill in March 2020 – here.

Most of the Bill extends to England and Wales and applies in England. There are some parts that extend to the whole of the UK or apply to specific UK nations. For example, there are specific provisions on environmental governance, managing waste and water quality that extend and apply to Northern Ireland only. Provisions on waste including producer responsibility, resource efficiency and exporting waste extend and apply to the whole of the UK, as do the provisions on environmental recall of motor vehicles, and the provisions on the regulation of chemicals.

Note – DEFRA has current consultations relating to the Environment Bill –

(1) Consultation on the Draft Policy Statement on Environmental Principles – here.

(2) Consultation on Introducing a Deposit Return Scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (a Deposit Return Scheme is already legislated for in Scotland) – 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.

UK updates to the TCA (Britain)

A little while ago, the Government announced (unilateral) new dates for the grace periods applying to GB goods movement to Northern Ireland under the IRl/NI Protocol. The Brexit Guidance was then updated.

The Government has now announced (unilateral) new dates for the grace periods applying to EU imports into Britain under the TCA (the UK-EU FTA). The Brexit Guidance will be updated.

We are announcing today a clear revised timetable for the introduction of controls, as follows:

• Pre-notification requirements for Products of Animal Origin (POAO), certain animal by-products (ABP), and High Risk Food Not Of Animal Origin (HRFNAO) will not be required until 1 October 2021. Export Health Certificate requirements for POAO and certain ABP will come into force on the same date.

• Customs import declarations will still be required, but the option to use the deferred declaration scheme, including submitting supplementary declarations up to six months after the goods have been imported, has been extended to 1 January 2022.

• Safety and Security Declarations for imports will not be required until 1 January 2022.

• Physical SPS checks for POAO, certain ABP, and HRFNAO will not be required until 1 January 2022. At that point they will take place at Border Control Posts.

• Physical SPS checks on high risk plants will take place at Border Control Posts, rather than at the place of destination as now, from 1 January 2022.

• Pre-notification requirements and documentary checks, including phytosanitary certificates will be required for low risk plants and plant products, and will be introduced from 1 January 2022.

• From March 2022, checks at Border Control Posts will take place on live animals and low risk plants and plant products.

Traders moving controlled goods into Great Britain will continue to be ineligible for the deferred customs declaration approach. They will therefore be required to complete a full customs declaration when the goods enter Great Britain.

Controls and checks on Sanitary and Phytosanitary goods are of course a devolved matter and we continue to work closely with the Devolved Administrations on their implementation, in particular with the Welsh Government on their timetable for completing supporting Border Control Post infrastructure in Wales.

The written statement is here.

GB goods movement to the EU is unaffected, i.e. the TCA applies in full.

Plastic Waste Shipment (EU)

On 22nd December 2020 the EU adopted new rules on the export, import and intra-EU shipment of plastic waste – here. [these changes are not yet in the CONSLEG consolidated law version uploaded on Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklist, and the updated law will be added shortly]

The new rules ban the export of plastic waste from the EU to non-OECD countries, except for clean plastic waste sent for recycling. Exporting plastic waste from the EU to OECD countries and imports in the EU will also be more strictly controlled.

The new rules entered into force on 1 January 2021. They apply to exports, imports and intra-EU shipments of plastic waste: [see below per the EU news announcement]

Exports from the EU

• Exporting hazardous plastic waste and plastic waste that is hard to recycle from the EU to non-OECD countries will be banned.

• Exporting clean, non-hazardous waste (which is destined for recycling) from the EU to non-OECD countries will only be authorised under specific conditions. The importing country must indicate which rules apply to such imports to the European Commission. The export from the EU will then only be allowed under the conditions laid down by the importing country. For countries which do not provide information on their legal regime, the “prior notification and consent procedure” will apply.

• Exporting hazardous plastic waste and plastic waste that is hard to recycle from the EU to OECD countries will be subject to the “prior notification and consent procedure”. Under this procedure, both the importing and exporting country must authorise the shipment.

Imports into the EU

• Importing hazardous plastic waste and plastic waste that is hard to recycle into the EU from third countries will be subject to the “prior notification and consent procedure”. Under this procedure, both the importing and exporting country must authorise the shipment.

Intra-EU shipments

• The “prior notification and consent procedure” will also apply to intra-EU shipments of hazardous plastic waste, and of non-hazardous plastic waste that is difficult to recycle.

• All intra-EU shipments of non-hazardous waste for recovery will be exempt from these new controls. 

These new rules amend the EU’s Waste Shipment Regulation (EU Waste Transhipment Regulation) and implement the decision taken by 187 countries in May 2019 at the Conference of the Parties of the Basel Convention. This Basel decision set up a global regime governing international trade in plastic waste for the first time, by including new entries on plastic waste in the Annexes of the Convention.

The EU ban on exports outside the OECD of plastic waste that is difficult to recycle, goes further than the requirements of the Basel Convention.

[Note: the UK is outside the EU, it did update its International Waste Shipment Regulation to incorporate a prior notification and consent process effective 1st Jan 2021 – see Cardinal Environment Registers and Checklists – but it did not implement a ban on exports of plastic waste to non-OECD. DEFRA – The government had “pledged to ban the export of all plastic waste to non-OECD countries”, but no timetable for action exists. Research is commissioned to better understand existing UK plastic waste recycling capacity and DEFRA would consult in due course on how to deliver its manifesto commitments.]

GMO Regulation Changes (England)

In its first Brexit de-regulation foray (of relevance to this blog) – the UK government today seeks views on its plans to change its regulation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in England – here.

The consultation ends on 17 March 2021.

Part 1 of the consultation focuses on the regulation of gene edited (GE) organisms possessing genetic changes which could anyway have been introduced by traditional breeding.

Part 2 of the consultation engages separately and starts gathering views on the wider regulatory framework governing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Depending on the results of part 1, DEFRA may change the legislation to amend the definition of a GMO as it applies in England. Currently GMOs are defined in section 106 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (amended by the GMO Deliberate Release Regulations). This would mean that the law would not apply to organisms produced by gene editing (GE) and other genetic technologies if they could have been developed using traditional breeding methods. DEFRA’s view is that organisms produced by GE or by other genetic technologies should not be regulated as GMOs if they could have been produced by traditional breeding methods.

The responses from part 2 of the consultation will be used by the UK government to inform policy development and stakeholder engagement plans on any potential wider GMO reform.

On 25 July 2018 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) clarified that organisms obtained by mutagenesis are genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as defined in the European Directive 18/2001/EC. The journal Nature has a useful summary article on this technical field – here.

Note – the Court also clarified that organisms obtained by mutagenesis techniques which have conventionally been used in a number of applications and have a long safety record are exempt from those obligations, on the understanding that the Member States are free to subject them, in compliance with EU law, to the obligations laid down by the directive or to other obligations.

The ECJ Press Release on the matter is here.

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.

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.

EU Safer Food Package (EU and UK from 1st Jan 2021)

The smarter rules for safer food (SRSF) package is a set of EU regulations for the protection against animal disease and plant pests. The package modernises, simplifies and improves existing health and safety standards for the agri-food chain. It takes a risk-based approach to animal, plant and public health protection, introducing more efficient pest and disease control measures.

The package includes 3 principal EU regulations:

• Official Controls Regulation (EU) 2017/625: how controls across the agri-food chain will be monitored and enforced – applies from 14 December 2019

• Plant Health Regulation (EU) 2016/2031: controls for protecting plants from disease and pests – applies from 14 December 2019

• Animal Health Regulation (EU) 2016/429: a framework for the principles of European animal health – applies from 21 April 2021

The new Official Controls and Plant Health Regulations now apply in the UK. From 1 January 2021, these regulations will be retained by the Withdrawal Act and will continue to apply subject to any amendments Parliament may agree. UK legislation is also enacted.

The new Animal Health Regulation is not applicable until 21 April 2021, after the end of the transition period, and so the UK is not obliged to implement it.

EU Official Controls Regulation 2017/625

The new EU Official Controls Regulation (OCR) was published on 15 March 2017 and will apply in EU member states from 14 December 2019, alongside the Plant Health Regulation.

It sets out mechanisms for ensuring that responsible persons and authorities enforce the rules and must verify that businesses are complying with the legal requirements. It explains what action enforcement authorities must take when they spot such non-compliance. This covers:

• food and food safety, integrity and wholesomeness at any stage of production, processing and distribution of food

• feed and feed safety at any stage of production, processing and distribution of feed and the use of feed

• animal health requirements

• prevention and minimisation of risks to human and animal health emerging from animal by-products and derived products

• welfare requirements for animals

• protective measures against pests of plants

• requirements for the placing on the market and use of plant protection products and the sustainable use of pesticides, with the exception of pesticides application equipment

• organic production and labelling of organic products

• use and labelling of protected designations of origin, protected geographical indications and traditional specialities guaranteed

• deliberate release into the environment of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) for the purpose of food and feed production.

The requirements of the OCR legislation cover how inspections, audits and sampling take place. It simplifies the current rules and makes sure there is consistency across the entire agricultural industry and food chain by including plants and plant products and animal by-products.

The OCR simplifies and brings together several existing control rules. It repeals Regulation 882/2004 and Regulation 854/2004.

Some of the areas changing include:

• extending official controls to plant health and animal by-products

• increasing the transparency of controls carried out by national enforcement authorities

• creating a common framework for carrying out border controls on animals and goods entering or crossing the EU

• strengthening controls to identify fraudulent practices at an early stage

• modernising the computerised systems for the management of data and information on official controls

EU Plant Health Regulation 2016/2031

The EU Plant Health Regulation (PHR) was published on 26 October 2016 and will apply to EU member states from 14 December 2019, alongside the Official Controls Regulation.

The new EU PHR sets out controls and restrictions that will apply to imports and internal movement of certain plants, plant pests, and other materials like soil, to help reduce these risks.

The SRSF package revises and improves the current EU plant health legislation. The PHR repeals Directive 2000/29.

Some of the areas changing include:

• extending the scope and changing the format of plant passporting

• new requirements for authorisation to issue plant passports

• more goods imported to the EU will need a phytosanitary certificate

• new requirements for the registration of professional operators

• movements within the EU – restrictions between disease free and pest free areas

• a strengthened protected zone

• new requirements applying to high risk plants and regulated non quarantine pests (RNQPs)

• a more precautionary approach to new trade flows and a commitment to undertake thorough pest risk assessments

• new category of priority pests, including annual surveying requirements and outbreak contingency planning

EU Animal Health Regulation 2016/429

The EU Animal Health Regulation (AHR) was published on 31 March 2016.

The UK and other EU member states are currently in a 5-year implementation period for AHR. The new rules will apply in EU member states from 21 April 2021.

The AHR outlines the principles of European animal health, supporting:

• a quick reaction in cases of emerging animal diseases and controlling outbreaks as effectively and efficiently as possible

• a consistent approach in dealing with different animal health diseases

• reducing the effect of animal disease outbreaks on animal and public health, animal welfare, the economy and the wider rural community

• functioning of the EU internal market in animals and animal products.

The above is not a full list, please read the contents of the webpage – here.

Further useful information is here.

Note: a plant passport is NOT the same as a phytosanitary certificate.

Plants and Plant Products (UK from 1st Jan 2021)

‘Plant’ means a living plant (including a fungus or tree) or a living part of a plant (including a living part of a fungus or shrub), at any stage of growth.

‘Plant product’ means products of plant origin, unprocessed or having undergone simple preparation, in so far as these are not plants, including wood and bark.

Instructions are issued by DEFRA and APHA for Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) – here.

We await the instructions for Northern Ireland.

Importing plants and plant products from the EU from 1 January 2021

High-priority plants and plant products from the EU must have:

• a phytosanitary certificate (PC)

• a pre-notification submitted by the importer in England, Scotland or Wales

• documentary and identity checks

• a physical inspection

The importer will pay for these services.

High-priority plants and plant products from the EU that will need a PC from 1 January 2021 include:

• all plants for planting

• ware potatoes

• some seed and timber

• used agricultural or forestry machinery

The importer must pre-notify for imports of solid fuel wood that aren’t regulated. A PC is not required for these imports.

Importing plants and plant products from 1 April 2021

The importer must use the Import of products, animals, food and feed system (IPAFFS) to notify the Animal Plant Health Agency (APHA) or the Forestry Commission that regulated plants and plant products will be imported.

All regulated plants and plant products imported to England, Scotland or Wales from the EU must have phytosanitary certificates (PCs).

APHA will inspect the PCs in England and Wales. The Scottish Government will inspect PCs in Scotland.

Regulated plants and plant products include:

• all plants for planting

• root and tubercle vegetables

• some common fruits other than fruit preserves by deep freezing

• some cut flowers

• some seeds and grains

• leafy vegetables other than vegetables preserved by deep freezing

• potatoes from some countries

• machinery or vehicles which have been operated for agricultural or forestry purposes

Importing plants and plant products from 1 July 2021

Regulated plants and plant products will have extra documentary checks and physical inspections.

The importer must use IPAFFS to notify APHA or the Forestry Commission of the import of regulated plants and plant products.

Movement of wood packaging material

Wood packaging material (WPM) moving between the UK and the rest of the EU can currently move freely without checks or controls.

WPM includes:

• pallets

• crates

• boxes

• cable drums

• spools

• dunnage

From 1 January 2021 all WPM moving between the UK and the EU must meet ISPM15 international standards by undergoing heat treatment and marking. All WPM may be subject to official checks either upon or after entry to the EU.

Checks on WPM will continue to be carried out in the UK on a risk-targeted basis only. The plant health risk from WPM imported from the EU is not expected to change from 1 January 2021.

The above is not a full list, please read the entire webpage with its links – here.