New Parliament Statutory Instrument Service (UK)

The UK Parliament website has now launched its new long awaited Statutory Instrument (SI) service. The site is at a beta stage (meaning it’s still in testing). Improvements are expected in the next weeks, and it will include the sifting processes under the EU (Withdrawal) Act (not yet enacted) once those are finalised.

Here

As with the Bills section which has already been a long time running, the new Statutory Instrument service will display the SIs in the different decision processes, i.e. before they are enacted. These decision processes are termed “sifting”.

This new service will be particularly helpful, as thousands of new Statutory Instruments can be expected under the Brexit Acts. These will both amend and replace existing law.

I will be monitoring and posting out to keep you advised (by reference to this location). Once the SIs are enacted, they will be compiled on the Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers (initially as a single link on the top right hand side).

Over time, we will consolidate these into the existing Cardinal Environment consolidated laws that we supply.

Please continue to monitor this Blog closely.

Brexit Bill Tracker (UK)

The UK Institute for Government has helpfully compiled the following graphic. You will notice that no UK Brexit bill is yet enacted. Nonetheless, unless otherwise agreed between the UK and the EU, from 12 midnight CET on 29 March 2019, the UK is a third country (in EU law terms).

In the event there is agreement between the UK and the EU on Withdrawal, there will be an additional Withdrawal and Implementation Bill (not to be confused with the Withdrawal Bill that is presently in progress). It is this Withdrawal and Implementation Bill that may set out the provisions for the Transition Period (if such is agreed). Attached to this Bill, may be an outline of the future relationship between the UK and the EU.

Waste Crime (UK – E&W)

DEFRA is conducting a consultation on proposals to tackle crime and poor performance in the waste sector, and introduce a new fixed penalty for the householder waste duty of care. The consultation closes on 26th March 2018, and applies to England and Wales. The consultation document is here.

One part of this consultation proposes changes to the waste exemption regime (set out in Schedule 3 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 (as amended)).

Waste exemptions are exemptions from the need for an environmental permit for waste recovery and disposal operations. Since exemptions were first introduced in 1994, the government has made extensive use of them (within the EU rules) to provide a light-touch form of regulation for small-scale, low risk waste management activities.

In England and Wales, there are 59 types of exempt waste operations available for the use (U), treatment (T), storage (S) and disposal (D) of waste. Similar provisions exist in Scotland and Northern Ireland (but note the exact exemptions are different).

Apart from exemption T11 for the treatment of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), it is free to register one or more exemptions at a site. The registration is valid for three years and then automatically expires, and can be re-registered or “renewed” for another three years. Each exemption has conditions setting out the types and quantities of waste that can be managed. The conditions also set out what treatments can be carried out, how the waste must be stored, and which environmental protection measures must be complied with.

Registering an exemption is not the same as applying for and receiving an environmental permit. A permit amounts to “permission” from the regulators to carry a set of particular activities. In contrast, by registering an exemption, the establishment or undertaking is self- certifying that they have read and understood the conditions of the exempt activity and will comply with them. At the point of registration, the regulators do not assess whether the criteria defined in the exemption are met.

The proposals set out for consultation focus on four areas: (pages 40 to 67 of the consultant document)

1. Prohibiting the use of waste exemptions in specified circumstances;

2. Making changes to the ten waste exemptions identified as being associated with the greatest levels of non-compliance and illegality;

3. Requiring additional information to support effective regulation of the regime;

4. Improving the process to register or continue an exemption.

Use the resources set out here to respond to this consultation.

Subscribers (England and Wales) to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists will receive an Email Alert when the EPR changes.

Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Bill 2017-19 (UK)

I posted earlier about the EU Brexit Notice on haulage, which gave notice that UK vehicle registrations and driving licences would not be valid in the EU after 00:00 30 March 2019 (subject to any transition period or Trade Deal).

The UK Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Bill is a new UK Brexit Bill (not signalled in the Queens Speech) that had its First Reading in the House of Lords on 7th February 2018. The Bill is here. The Explanatory Notes are here.

The UK has now decided, irrespective, it will ratify the international 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic (which it had not ratified hitherto).

The Bill provides the UK Secretary of State with the powers to introduce administrative systems for haulage permits, which may be needed once the UK has left the EU, and a trailer registration scheme, which will be required following the UK’s ratification of the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic.

The Secretary of State will be able to make regulations prohibiting the use of a goods vehicle registered in the UK on an international journey specified in the regulations without a permit, where such permits are provided for in an international agreement. The regulations will also set out the administrative procedures for the allocation and granting of permits, including the number of permits available, the application process, the criteria to be taken into account in determining the issue of permits, and provisions for cancelling permits. Regulations will also allow the Secretary of State to establish an appeals process for the cancellation of a permit. The Bill sets out enforcement provisions, including powers for examiners to require the production of permits and offences for breaching regulations or failing to produce a permit for inspection. The Bill also includes a power to charge fees for the application for, and the issue of, a permit.

The Bill also makes provision for the Secretary of State to establish a trailer registration scheme, in view of the provisions of the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, to ensure that trailers can be registered before entering international traffic. The scope of the scheme will be set out in regulations made under Part 2. Mandatory registration will apply only to commercial trailers (in practice almost exclusively HGV trailers) and the largest non-commercial trailers that enter international traffic. Smaller, common non-commercial trailers, such as caravans and horse trailers, may be registered by their keepers if they wish.

Again, registration is a necessary pre-cursor to travel abroad. The UK will ratify the 1968 Convention in order to support UK vehicle transport abroad. Where the outcome of negotiations with the EU mean that existing EU Licence arrangements will no longer apply after the UK’s exit from the EU, the Bill provides the Secretary of State with the powers to set up and enforce any alternative arrangements that may be agreed internationally, enabling the continued movement of goods to and from the EU by UK hauliers. A consequence of ratification is that unregistered trailers could be turned away at the borders of other countries who have ratified the 1968 Convention. Therefore, for operational reasons, a trailer registration scheme needs to be implemented.

The Bill (once enacted) will repeal the International Road Haulage Permits Act 1975 and make new provisions. It will also amend other legislation such as the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994, the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995 and the Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001, and makes consequential amendments to legislation in Northern Ireland.

Please read the linked explanatory notes carefully. I will Blog post separately when the UK creates the Convention ratifying instrument.

Trade White Paper (UK)

The UK Government today published its responses to consultation submissions made to it on the Trade White Paper proposals it published earlier. The information is here.

(1) WTO – The UK is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in its own right, and it meets the obligations of WTO membership as a member of the EU. UK- specific WTO schedules are required, which, as far as possible, will not alter the scope of UK market access obligations either in UK goods (GATT) or services (GATS) schedules. These are required irrespective of any Trade Deal with the EU. In goods, this also includes the market access currently enjoyed by trading partners under Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs) and Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS). In services, it also means preparing a UK-specific Annex on Article II (Most Favoured Nation Treatment) exemptions under the GATS.

The UK Government has consistently said that the best way forward is for the UK to replicate, as far as possible, its current commitments. The intention is to do this and to have the UK WTO schedules on the way to certification by the point the UK leaves the EU. Should the goods and services schedules be uncertified as the UK leaves the EU, the UK Government does not anticipate problems – it states (in the linked information) it is not uncommon for WTO members to operate on uncertified schedules for periods of time. It states it will continue to work for as early a certification point as possible, and it points out the EU itself has not had up to date certified schedules since the EC15 enlargement in 1995.

[NB: I am not a trade specialist, this Blog post merely reports the UK Government statements]

(2) GPA – this is the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement. The UK currently participates in the GPA via its EU membership and the attached information states the necessary steps are being taken to maintain UK participation when the UK leaves the EU. The information states the UK is seeking to join the GPA as an independent party after it leaves the EU, to safeguard guaranteed access to global public procurement markets for UK businesses. Stakeholder engagement on the GPA has confirmed that continuing the UK’s participation in the GPA is important to UK businesses. The information states the UK Government will continue to engage with stakeholders throughout the coming months, to update them on the progress of UK independent UK membership of the GPA, and will seek further input and feedback from them on this policy area.

Unabated Coal Plant Closure (Britain)

Consultation on the closure of unabated coal generation in Britain by 2025 was recently held. It has been known that unabated coal generation would cease, because this had already been announced. The UK Government has now published its implementation plan today – here. This sets out the plan to realise the ceasing of unabated coal generation in Britain by 2025 (as of now, there are no coal plants in Scotland). NB: energy policy is a reserved matter in Scotland and a non-devolved matter in Wales. Energy policy is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland.

A new emissions intensity limit will be applied to generating units, of 450g CO2 per kWh of electricity generated, from 1st October 2025. This limit is broadly the emissions intensity of an unabated gas generator and is in line with the existing Emissions Performance Standard that applies to new build fossil fuel plant. The limit will be applied on a unit-by- unit basis, as proposed in the consultation. Units could meet this standard by investing to abate CO2 emissions significantly.

Note: the 450gCO2/kWh emissions intensity limit will be an instantaneous limit. This contrasts with the existing Emissions Performance Standard, which sets an annual limit on CO2 emissions from fossil fuel generators, based on their capacity and an assumed 85% annual load factor. Applying the existing Emissions Performance Standard on an annual basis could allow unabated coal units to run at relatively low load-factors and this will not be permitted.

As proposed in the consultation, to ensure that the emissions intensity limit is applied only to generating units that use coal and that there are no unintended consequences for other forms of generation, the limit will be applied to units burning any solid fossil fuel (i.e. coal, lignite, etc.), irrespective of site boundaries, and with a thermal capacity of over 300MWth. Compliance with the emissions intensity limit will be on a net CO2 basis, in that emissions from other fuels co-fired with solid fossil fuel will be included in the calculations for emission intensity. The emissions intensity limit will not apply to units that convert fully to other fuels.

To avoid the use of unsustainable biomass in units that co-fire – for the purposes of compliance with the emissions intensity limit, the net CO2 emissions from coal units co-firing with biomass will be calculated as the sum of the emissions from the coal element of the fuel diet, plus net life-cycle CO2 emissions attributable to the biomass element of the diet. It is recognised that this will have the incidental effect of increasing the relative proportion of biomass that would need to be combusted with coal in order to remain under the emissions intensity limit. This does not preclude any other biomass sustainability requirements that might be introduced in the future.

The documents published today identify that Coal is the most carbon intensive fossil fuel and that the decline in coal generation over the last few years has led to a significant reduction in the carbon intensity of the power sector. The UK Government assessment, as set out in their updated Impact Assessment, is that the closure of unabated coal plant will yield guaranteed reductions of 15MtCO2. In addition to this, reductions of harmful air pollution such as Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) will be guaranteed. This will contribute to the improvements in air quality that are being actively pursued at national level (in response to court action also) to reduce impacts on human health and the environment.

In 2017, the UK Government published an air quality plan to reduce roadside concentrations of Nitrogen Dioxide and in 2018, the UK Government will publish a Clean Air Strategy outlining its plans to reduce emissions of air pollutants from a wide range of sources. This will be a further Blog post.

Note: the UK Prime Minister will give a speech on the topic of the Environment next week. Depending on its content, this may be a further Blog post.

The documents published that the UK government is considering the appropriate legislative vehicle for introducing the emissions intensity limit from 1 October 2025 and other measures required to implement it. As the introduction of the emissions intensity limit will prevent unabated coal units entering into the Capacity Market auctions held in late 2021/early 2022 for the 2025/26 delivery year, and subsequent auctions for delivery years beyond that, the documents state the required legislation can be expected before these 2021/22 auctions. A final Impact Assessment will be published at that time. A further Blog post may be made at that time, or this post updated. Post updates do not forward to inboxes, so please make a note to return to check this Blog post.

Brexit Bill Tracker (UK) (#2)

UPDATED 5 March 2018

UPDATED 20 January 2018

Brexit Bills

(1) EU (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-2019 – Third Reading and Report Stage 16th and 17th January – Bill as amended so far here

(2) Nuclear Safeguards Bill 2017-2019 – Report Stage (date not announced) (no amendments made at Second Reading) – Bill here

(3) Trade Bill 2017-2019 – Second Reading 9th January – Explanatory Notes here, Bill here

(4) Immigration Bill

(5) Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill 2017-2019 – Second Reading 8th January, Explanatory Notes here, Bill here

(6) International Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill – introduced in House of Lords first, Explanatory Notes here, Bill as amended so far here

(7) Agriculture Bill – Command Paper later this spring – DEFRA announcement here

(8) Fisheries Bill

(9) Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill – DExEU announcement here

Brexit Consequent Bills

(1) Environmental Watchdog Bill – DEFRA announcement of consultation here

Subscribers to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Law Checklists will see their Link to Brexit Laws appearing shortly.