EU Law Revocation (UK)

Yesterday the REUL bill had its Third Reading in the House of Commons, and now goes to the House of Lords. To remind, it’s a UK bill extending to all parts of the UK. It’s unamended, save for a government amendment that will make any document surviving the process to be known as an “assimilated” instrument.

At Third Reading, the government confirmed the following –

(1) up to 4,000 existing instruments on the UK statute base could be affected by the REUL bill project, they said 3,200 instruments had already been verified as within the scope of the project (the government accepted its (public) dashboard shows 2,400, some already revoked)

(2) the (above) dashboard (here) hitherto moribund, would be updated possibly by the end of this month

(3) standards could rise, despite the REUL bill regulatory burden stipulations

(4) devolved governments could reissue the sunsetted laws themselves within their capacities (no announcement re Northern Ireland which has no current government)

Reminder: the REUL bill will sunset (revoke) in scope existing instruments by 31st December 2023. The bill enables a Minister or a devolved administration to exempt an instrument or a part of an instrument from sunset before that date, and thereby preserve it.

The bill gives an extension possibility, by regulation of a Minister (not a devolved administration) and only for an instrument or category of instrument specified in that regulation (not a general extension), and only to 23 June 2026.

The bill applies UK wide, but “Northern Ireland law” is out of scope.

It’s now accepted that 4,000 existing instruments are in scope.

As I posted yesterday, the Britain list (of in scope REUL bill affected instruments) is already loaded onto subscribers’ systems. I will now compile the Northern Ireland list, and it will show on subscribers’ systems shortly.

EU Law Revocation (Northern Ireland)

I had earlier written that the REUL Bill does not apply to Northern Ireland. This is incorrect. As currently drafted, the Bill applies to Northern Ireland, and so it’s accommodation of the pre-existing Northern Ireland Protocol is not presently understood.

The Bill is back in Parliament today for its Third Reading in the House of Commons.

I will commence compiling the list of laws pertaining to Northern Ireland affected by the Bill. This will load onto subscribers Northern Ireland systems shortly, and updates included in the monthly Email Alerts. This list will also identify those of the cohort also listed in the Northern Ireland Protocol. If a document is listed in the Northern Ireland Protocol, it also applies in Northern Ireland, even if identified for deletion under the Bill.

Note: the list pertaining to Britain and the devolved administrations in Britain (Scotland and Wales) is already loaded onto subscribers systems for these jurisdictions.

I will Blog post again, if the Government accepts any amendments arising from the Report stage, being debated later today.

The later stages in the Lords (of enactment of this Bill) could also make amendments, that may or may not be accepted by the Government. Further Blogs on the matter can be expected.

Environmental Targets (UK)

Late today the UK Government announced its delayed proposals for targets (under the Environment Act 2021) – 13 targets will be laid by statutory instrument – here – they will go live in 2023 once approved by Parliament – this is a link to England’s biodiversity indicators –

Biodiversity on land

  • To halt the decline in species abundance by 2030.
  • To ensure that species abundance in 2042 is greater than in 2022, and at least 10% greater than 2030.
  • Improve the Red List Index for England for species extinction risk by 2042, compared to 2022 levels.
  • To restore or create in excess of 500,000 hectares of a range of wildlife-rich habitat outside protected sites by 2042, compared to 2022 levels.

Biodiversity in the sea 

  • 70% of the designated features in the MPA network to be in favourable condition by 2042, with the remainder in recovering condition.

Water quality and availability 

  • Abandoned metal mines target: Halve the length of rivers polluted by harmful metals from abandoned mines by 2038, against a baseline of around 1,500 km.
  • Agriculture target: Reduce nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and sediment pollution from agriculture into the water environment by at least 40% by 2038, compared to a 2018 baseline.
  • Wastewater target: Reduce phosphorus loadings from treated wastewater by 80% by 2038 against a 2020 baseline.
  • Water Demand Target: Reduce the use of public water supply in England per head of population by 20% from the 2019/20 baseline reporting year figures, by 2037/38.

Woodland cover 

  • Increase total tree and woodland cover from 14.5% of land area now to 16.5% by 2050.

Resource efficiency and waste reduction 

  • Reduce residual waste (excluding major mineral wastes) kg per capita by 50% by 2042 from 2019 levels.

Air quality 

  • An Annual Mean Concentration Target for PM2.5 levels in England to be 10 µg m-3 or below by 2040.
  • A Population Exposure Reduction Target for a reduction in PM2.5 population exposure of 35% compared to 2018 to be achieved by 2040.

The announcement states the UK Government will set out more details about its plans to deliver these targets in its Environmental Improvement Plan: its manifesto for the environment for the next 5 years. Publication will be by 31 January, as required by law.

There are no targets announced for –

* River or groundwater health (existing legislation is listed for deletion in GB under the Removal of REUL Project)

* Protected nature sites (much of the existing legislation is listed for deletion in GB under the Removal of REUL Project)

* Resource efficiency (existing legislation is listed for deletion in GB under the Removal of REUL Project)

EU Law Revocation (Britain) Update

The Financial Times is reporting this morning that a further large number of EU laws has been located by the National Archives. The report is that the end 2023 deadline for revocation of REUL (retained EU law) is now likely to slip, as the scale of the work challenge to replace or reform each instrument builds.

The Bill is currently in Committee stage, as currently drafted Ministers could delay until June 2026, but both dates of December 2023 and June 2026 could now change.

We will nonetheless, list the instruments that will be affected, and load this onto Cardinal Environment Limited EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists in January 2023. We will track the changes to this list and the development of replacement or reformed instruments by using the traffic light system, the same approach we used for the Brexit Consolidated Law project (which is concluded).

I will write further Updates (Blog posts) as more information becomes available on the revocation of REUL.

Environmental Outcomes Reports (UK)

Part 5 (clauses 116 to 130) of the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill provides for regulations – termed Environmental Outcomes Reports Regulations (EOR Regulations) to be enacted by the Secretary of State to specify outcomes in relation to environmental protection in the UK or a relevant offshore area that are to be “specified environmental outcomes”. The Bill is here, and it is in Committee (House of Commons).

The Bill Explanatory Notes state the EOR Regulations will be subject to public consultation and also the affirmative parliamentary procedure (which requires a positive vote of the UK Parliament) and would (by its own provisions) uphold the non-regression provisions set out in Part 5 (clause 120).

The effect of the EOR Regulations will be not only to specify outcomes relating to environmental protection, but also against these specified environmental outcomes to assess the relevant plans and relevant projects through an Environmental Outcomes Report. As well as assessing against outcomes, an Environmental Outcomes Report must additionally set out and assess the impact of any proposed mitigation or compensation as well as considering reasonable alternatives to the consent or plan, or any element of them. Where an Environmental Outcomes Report is required, this would (by law) be taken into account when considering whether to grant consent or bring a plan into effect.

Essentially the EOR Regulations will take over from the EIA Regulations (for those projects and plans where environmental outcomes reports are mandated).

Bill clause 116 defines environmental protection to be –

(a) protection of the natural environment, cultural heritage and the landscape from the effects of human activity;

(b) protection of people from the effects of human activity on the natural environment, cultural heritage and the landscape;

(c) maintenance, restoration or enhancement of the natural environment, cultural heritage or the landscape;

(d) monitoring, assessing, considering, advising or reporting on anything
in paragraphs (a) to (c).

Before making specified environmental outcomes, Bill clause 116 states the Secretary of State must have regard to the current environmental improvement plan made under Part 1 of the Environment Act 2021 (presently the 25 Year Environment Plan, as none is yet made under the EA 21 Part 1), including the legally binding long-term targets and interim targets that are set under it.

Bill clause 117 provides for an environmental outcomes report to be made for certain consents and certain plans. An environmental outcomes report is a written report.

Further clauses set out powers to be ascribed to these EOR Regulations in relation to consents and plans. Note: the new terms “category 1 consent” and “category 2 consent”.

Bill clause 120 sets out safeguards for non-regression, international obligations and public engagement.

Bill clause 121 deals with interactions with the devolved administrations.

Bill clause 122 addresses exemptions for national defence and civil emergency.

Bill clause 123 sets out sanctions, notably the EOR Regulations may create criminal offences, but not the penalty of imprisonment.

Bill clause 127 addresses the interaction with existing environmental assessment regulations (this is a list of law, including the various existing EIA Regulations) and the existing Habitats Regulations. In particular, the EOR Regulations may disapply aspects of the environmental assessment Regulations or the existing Habitats Regulations where an environmental outcomes report is required.

The existing Habitats Regulations are the source of European Protected Species (and their additional protection from disturbance (animals), and cutting and collecting (plants)) and also European Protected Sites (habitat).

The EOR Regulations may also amend, or revoke the existing environmental assessment regulations.

UK BAT (UK)

Industrial installations undertaking specific types of activity are required to use ‘best available techniques’ (BAT), which means the best economically and technically viable techniques to prevent, minimise and reduce emissions to air, water, and land.

BAT is used to determine the types of abatement technologies and methods that operators should put in place. BAT conclusions describe the best techniques and associated emission levels, which are the basis of the limits placed within environmental permits.

The UK Government, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government, and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) are putting in place a new regime for the development of ‘BAT’ across the United Kingdom (UK), following the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU).

Northern Ireland – any ‘Best Available Techniques’ determined in Northern Ireland will need to ensure account is taken of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which requires some specific activities that interact with the Single Electricity Market to continue to align with the EU Industrial Emissions Directive (IED).

BAT was adopted and applied across the European Union (EU) by the European Commission as BAT Conclusions (BATC) under the IED (Directive 2010/75/EU).

Existing EU BATC continue to have effect in the UK through the EU Withdrawal Act 2018. They are available in best available technique reference documents or BREFS.

The UK no longer needs to meet the requirements of new EU BATC issued after 31 Dec 2020.

30 August 2022 – Policy Paper – here.

BATC will be published as statutory instruments and used as the basis for permit conditions for industry.

The UK BAT system will take between 1 to 3 years to create a set of BATC depending on the complexity of the industrial sector. The order of BATC to be reviewed will be announced in advance.

UK BAT will be established by technical working groups (TWG) for the relevant industrial sectors.

The first 4 industry sectors to establish BATC groups will be:

1 Ferrous metal processing – galvanising (FMPG).

2 Ferrous metals processing – forming (FMPF).

3 Textiles (TXT).

4 Waste gas treatment in the chemicals sector (WGC).

The TWG’s will be established from September 2022. It is anticipated that the BATC for the industry sectors above will be published in the second half of 2023.

A new governance structure will also be established, with new independent bodies – called the Standards Council and the Regulators Group – consisting of government officials and expert regulators from all four nations of the UK.

A UK Air Quality Governance Group will also be established to oversee the work of the Standards Council and the delivery of the requirements under this new framework. Interested parties from industry, academia and civil society will be able to engage in the running of the BAT system through an advisory group being set up by the UK BAT Team.

Local councils currently play a major role in regulating industrial installations in England and Wales and have a clear interest in the impact emissions have on the health of local communities and the environment. The new regime will bring local councils into the BAT framework for the first time by involving them in the governance and standard-setting processes.

Some sectors in the UK had already begun a separate review process under the old EU BAT framework. These sectors will complete the BAT process, drawing on UK data submitted to the EU as a starting point, then tailor the BAT to meet UK circumstances.

Environment Act 2021 OEP (England & NI)

Today (17th November 2021) section 22 of the Environment Act 2021 and Schedule 1 which establish the Office for Environmental Protection (“OEP”) as a body corporate are commenced.

Commencement also brings into force today:

* section 23 which defines the OEP’s principal objective when exercising its functions and provides that the OEP must prepare a strategy that sets out how it intends to exercise its functions

* section 24 which sets out the process by which the OEP must publish, revise or review the strategy and how it must consult on it

* section 26 which sets out that the OEP and the Committee on Climate Change must prepare a memorandum of understanding which sets out how the OEP and the Committee intend to co-operate.

In addition, certain terms used in Part 1 of the Act are now in force:

* section 44 (meaning of “natural environment”)

* section 45 (meaning of “environmental protection”)

* section 46 (meaning of “environmental law”)

* section 47, which provides for the interpretation of further terms.

An interim OEP is already established.

Here is the OEP website

Here is the statement from DAERA (Northern Ireland)

CORRECTION : Fuel Duties changes (UK)

The red diesel and biodiesel fuel duty changes (recent blog) are located in the Finance Act 2021, which is enacted but not yet commenced. The blog post is corrected.

There are further changes proposed in the Finance (No 2) Bill. Further information is here.

The changes to the duties on rebated fuels apply from 1 April 2022.

Fuel Duties changes (UK)

CORRECTION : the Finance Act 2021 is enacted. The Finance (No. 2) Bill is being debated. The changes identified below are located in the Finance Act 2021. The text below is amended.

Yesterday 16th November, the government issued information on its proposed changes to fuel duties – here.

The taxation of hydrocarbon oils is regulated by the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Act 1979 (HODA) and numerous Regulations. It provides a rebate on heavy oils but this rebate is not allowed for any oil that will be used as fuel for a ‘road vehicle’.

Road vehicles not allowed to use red diesel or rebated biodiesel in any circumstances, unless they are ‘excepted vehicles’ as defined in Schedule 1 to the Act. Excepted vehicles include agricultural vehicles and specialist vehicles, such as those used in construction, haulage and some manufacturing.

Biodiesel, bioblends and fuel substitutes are subject to duty if set aside for a chargeable use and rebates are provided for in specified circumstances. Heating is not a chargeable use for these fuels.

The Finance Act 2020 made changes to HODA that are not yet commenced. These relate to private pleasure craft.

The Finance Act 2021 changes HODA (not yet commenced) –

• Only ‘excepted machines’ (new Schedule 1A instead of Schedule 1) will be able to use red diesel and rebated biodiesel.

• Heating will be a chargeable use for biodiesel, bioblends and other fuel substitutes (rebated rates when used in non-commercial heating).

Companies, individuals and civil society organisations that will lose their entitlement to use red diesel will need to switch to white diesel. This will include sectors, for example, such as construction, mining and quarrying, ports, manufacturing (e.g. ceramics, steel, timber), haulage (for transport refrigeration units on lorries), road maintenance, airport operations, oil and gas extraction, plant hire, logistics and waste management.

Environment Act 2021 – summary (UK)

The Act is not yet published, neither is any commencement order, nor any regulation.

The closest text is the text as introduced to the House of Lords – here. Note, Environment is a devolved matter, which means the bulk of the Environment Act 2021 provisions relate to England only.

Key points –

(1) the government must set long-term targets in priority areas for England (and may set other long-term targets) – by regulations – air quality, water, biodiversity, resource efficiency and waste reduction. The government must then review these targets in the context of the significant improvement test in section 6.

(2) the government must publish a statement of environmental principles, to be used in policy making.

(3) the government must publish a report (at specified intervals) on developments in international environmental law.

(4) an Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) must be established in England, to carry out certain scrutiny and advice functions. Schedule 3 deals with the OEP as respects Northern Ireland.

(5) Schedule 4 confers powers to make regulations on producer responsibility, replacing authority in earlier legislation which is revoked. Schedule 5 confers powers to charge for disposal costs.

(6) Schedule 8 confers powers to make regulations to create deposit schemes.

(7) Schedule 9 confers powers to make regulations about charges for single-use plastic items.

(8) the Environmental Protection Act 1990 is amended with provisions about the separate collection of recyclable waste in England – glass, metal, plastic, paper and card, food waste.

(9) the Environmental Protection Act 1990 is amended with updated provisions for hazardous waste in England and Wales.

(10) the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 is amended with updated provisions for hazardous waste.

(11) the Environmental Protection Act 1990 is amended with updated provisions for transfrontier waste shipment.

(12) the government may make regulations to recall vehicles or engines on environmental grounds (section 73).

(13) the Water Resources Act 1991 (applicable England and Wales) is amended to require sewerage undertakers to publish and maintain a drainage and sewerage management plan. These provisions were strengthened slightly following consideration in the House of Lords (final Act text not yet published).

(14) the government (and the relevant authorities in the devolved administrations) may make regulations to change water quality standards.

(15) Schedule 14 provides for biodiversity gain to be a planning condition.

(16) the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 section 40 duty to conserve biodiversity (England) is substantively enhanced.

(17) local authorities in England must publish biodiversity reports at specified intervals.

(18) there must be more local nature recovery strategies so that they cover the whole of England.

(19) Natural England is empowered to publish a strategy for improving the conservation status of any species of flora or fauna (a special conservation strategy).

(20) Natural England is empowered to publish a strategy for improving the conservation and management of a protected site (a protected site strategy).

(21) local authorities in England must consult before felling street trees.