Building & Fire Safety (England & Wales)

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick gave a ministerial statement on Building and Fire Safety in the House of Commons today (20th Jan).

(1) a new Building Safety Regulator will be at the heart of a new regime – established as part of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – this will exist in shadow form immediately, ahead of it being fully established, following legislation (see the Queen’s Speech blog post I wrote) – Dame Judith Hackitt will chair a Board to oversee the transition,

(2) from next month building owners will be named where remediation has not started to remove unsafe Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding from their buildings,

(3) the government is consulting on extending the ban on combustible materials to buildings below 18 metres and views will be sought on how risks are assessed within existing buildings to inform future policy – here,

Further details are here.

20 Jan updated Building Safety Guidance is here.

(4) the government has issued a call for evidence on prioritisation of Fire risks – here – the outcome of this will assist the review of Fire Safety legislation.

Flammable Building Cladding (England and Wales)

Britain (England and Wales) is to ban the use of combustible materials on the outside of high-rise buildings in response to the Grenfell Tower fire.

The ban will apply to certain buildings over 18 metres (all high-rise residential buildings, hospitals, care homes and student accommodation). The ban will cover all combustible materials, including cladding, on new buildings in these categories.

The measure is to be announced by UK Housing Secretary James Brokenshire at the Conservative conference in Birmingham today.

Flammable cladding was blamed for the rapid spread of the fire at the West London high-rise, which claimed 72 lives in June 2017.

The situation in Scotland is here.

The ban will be implemented through changes to building regulations to be brought forward in late autumn. These will be loaded into Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Checklists supplied to subscribers.

Plastic Microbeads in Cosmetics Ban (UK)

UPDATE 3rd August : the 2017 Regulations are now notified to the EU and to the WTO. The EU notification gives detail, and is here

A few days ago, the DEFRA Secretary of State confirmed the UK will introduce a ban on plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products. Following consultation, the proposals are summarised :

(1) the ban on manufacture (England) will start 1st Jan 2018 and the ban on sale (England) will start 30th June 2018

(2) precise definitions of “microbead”, “plastic” and “rinse-off personal care product” have been developed to clearly define the scope of the ban

(3) the scope of rinse-off products will be as set out in the consultation, but DEFRA is additionally working with the Hazardous Substances Advisory Committee (HSAC) to assess the case for addressing further categories of products

(4) Trading Standards will be the regulator to manage compliance and enforcement in England

(5) enforcement in England will be carried out through a range of sanctions including variable monetary penalties, compliance notices, stop notices and enforcement undertakings

(6) the Devolved Administrations (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) will consider appropriate enforcement mechanisms, regulators and timescales according to devolution settlements.

The summary of DEFRA responses is here.

Legislation is expected by the end of 2017. This is a UK initiative, and is unconnected with the EU. 

Medium Combustion Plants and Generators (UK)

The Medium Combustion Plant (European) Directive (MCPD) is an instrument targeted at reducing air pollution by bringing in emission controls for combustion plants in the 1-50MWth range. 

The MCPD was supported by the UK as it will deliver a cost-effective improvement in air quality. The Directive requires all plants in scope to be registered or permitted and sets limits on the levels of pollutants that these plants can emit according to their type, size, age, fuel type and annual operating hours. It also requires operators to test emissions from their plants to demonstrate compliance with emission limits. The MCPD must be transposed into UK law by 19 December 2017. The controls will apply to new plants from December 2018. Existing plants must comply with requirements from 2024 or 2029, depending largely on size. Full implementation will be achieved in 2030. This legislation will be implemented in the UK

The European MCPD will be added to ENV Air in the Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Checklists.

Consultation has occurred in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The consultation response is published (England and Wales) here

England : the Environment Agency will be appointed as the regulator in England. For higher risk plants, where the impact on local air quality must be assessed to determine permit conditions, Local Authorities will be consulted. The Environment Agency will consult on fees and charges as part of its strategic review of charges. 

Wales : the Welsh government is considering the matter of regulatory responsibility in relation to plant in Wales.


(1) not all less than 1MW plant will be permitted

(2) control will be via the Environmental Permitting regime (England and Wales), there will be no change to other legislation

Hydraulic Fracturing (England & Wales)

The Onshore Hydraulic Fracturing (Protected Areas) Regulations 2016 are made 10th March 2016 and will come into force when section 4A of the Petroleum Act 1998 (inserted by s.50 of the Infrastructure Act 2015) enters into force.

Section 4A of the Petroleum Act 1998 sets out onshore hydraulic fracturing safeguards. In particular, it creates 11 pre-conditions that have to be complied with before the Secretary of State will issue a well consent authorising the drilling of a well for onshore hydraulic fracturing. In addition to the 11 pre-conditions, the Secretary of State must also be satisfied that it is appropriate to issue the well consent. 

The Onshore Hydraulic Fracturing (Protected Areas) Regulations 2016 define the terms “protected groundwater source areas” and “other protected areas” for the purposes of section 4A of the Petroleum Act 1998.

Section 50 of the Infrastructure Act 2015 inserts sections 4A and 4B into the Petroleum Act 1998. Section 4B sets out supplementary provisions applicable to section 4A, and is already in force (Infrastructure Act Commencement Order No. 4).

Conditions 5 and 6 (of the 11 conditions in section 4A) provide that associated hydraulic fracturing is not to take place in “protected groundwater source areas” or “other protected areas”. 

The 2016 Regulations are found here.

Section 50 of the Infrastructure Act is found here.