News

An investigation into the Garden Bridge Trust states that the Trust spent £50 million of public funds without producing demonstrable benefit and was a "failure for charity" which risks undermining public trust.

The Charity Commission's report on the trust concluded that while trustees fulfilled their legal duties in their decision-making, it criticizes the charity's approach to transparency and accountability.

The Garden Bridge project was a proposal for a pedestrian bridge across the Thames between London's Waterloo and Blackfriars bridges. The project collapsed in April 2017 after Dame Margaret Hodge's report for the Mayor of London found multiple failings at the scheme, with only £69 million in private donations raised towards its projected final cost of £200 million.

In its concluding report, the Commission advised policymakers to "think very carefully" before setting up an entirely new charity to deliver a singular public project or purpose. The regulator says it considers it "unlikely that the public would expect risks that are inherent in a major public infrastructure project to be outsourced to such a charity".

The Commission will update its approach when it receives applications from charities established for the sole purpose of delivering a publicly funded infrastructure project.

Commission Chair Baroness Stowell said "Londoners and taxpayers will legitimately feel angry and let down by the waste of millions of pounds of public money on a charitable project that was not delivered".

"I understand that anger and am clear that this represents a failure for charity that risks undermining public confidence in charities generally".

"While the charity was not mismanaged, the public would also expect, as I do, that the right lessons are learnt from this case, so that we don't see a similar failure arising in the future".

The Commission's report complements the Regulator's 2017 report into the management of trust, and sits alongside earlier reports by Hodge and the National Audit Office.

An unregistered gas fitter operating as a director of Master Plumbing Contractors Limited has been sentenced this week for carrying out gas work without being registered with Gas Safe.

Aylesbury Crown Court heard how the fitter alleged to be Gas Safe registered when he undertook gas work at two properties in Milton Keynes between 2015 and 2016.

He brandished a t-shirt with the Gas Safe logo, which was also on the company van. The fitter was reported to the Gas Safe Register after defects were found in the installation of a gas boiler.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the fitter was not Gas Safe registered at the time he conducted this work.

The fitter was found guilty of four offences under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations SI 1998/2451, and received four 18-month sentences, all suspended for two years. He was also ordered to complete 300 hours community service and pay costs of £15,000.

HSE Inspector Andrew McGill commented "HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate action against rogue gas fitters who disregard the law and place lives at risk. Working with gas appliances is difficult, specialised and potentially very dangerous, so it is vital that this is only undertaken by trained and competent engineers who are registered with Gas Safe".

The Government have now published the REACH etc. (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations SI 2019/758, which covers how the UK's system for chemicals regulation will operate once the UK leaves the EU.

These Regulations make various amendments to Regulation (EC) 1907/2006 on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) and establishing a European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), which currently governs chemical regulation within the European Union. The new UK REACH system will be similar to the European system under the REACH Regulation, mirroring the key principle of no data, no market for chemicals.

When these Regulations are brought into force on exit day, the aim is that REACH provisions will work effectively within the UK to provide a UK system of chemicals regulation. The functions undertaken by the ECHA under Regulation (EC) 1907/2006 will be transferred to domestic bodies, predominantly the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who already have some functions under REACH as the UK's competent authority. Any duties relating to appeals under REACH will be heard by the first-tier tribunal instead of the ECHA Board of Appeal. 

There are transitional provisions in the Regulations to allow industry to move to the new UK system and reduce disruption. UK companies will be able to continue to undertake the same activities in relation to chemicals as they did prior to the UK leaving the EU, however they will need to provide the HSE with some information in order to do so.

Transferring existing UK registrants to the new UK system

UK based companies with existing REACH registrations held in the period of two years prior to the UK's exit from the EU, including UK-based only representatives, will automatically be transferred to the new UK REACH system with no break in their validity. These registrants will not have to re-register their substances in the UK, they will not have any new fees to pay, and they will continue to have access to the UK market.

All transferring UK registrants will need to resubmit their original REACH registration data to the HSE over a two stage process.

Within 60 days of the UK leaving the EU basic data will need to be submitted to the HSE, including:

  • company details;
  • chemicals registered;
  • quantities produced; and
  • evidence of existing ECHA registration.

Within two years of the UK's exit full information will need to be submitted to the HSE, appropriate to the registrant's tonnage band under REACH.

A new system will be implemented to facilitate the operation of the UK REACH system to which companies will be able to upload their required data.

ECHA decisions prior to exit

All ECHA decisions on UK registrations, including decisions on testing proposals, dossier and substance evaluations, taken immediately prior to exit day will continue to be in force. Any deadlines established in those decisions may be amended by the HSE after exit day.

Notification by UK importers from the European Economic Area

UK companies who source substances from suppliers in the rest of the EEA will become importers into the UK market on exit day. This means they will then have the duty to register the substances they are importing from the EEA.

There are transitional measures proposed in the Regulations to help facilitate this. These importers will be required to complete an interim notification system, rather than undertake a full registration immediately after exit. This will allow qualifying companies to continue to buy substances from the EEA without interruption. Within 180 days of exit day, these companies will need to submit basic data on the company, substances, and information for safe use using the interim notification system. After two years this interim notification system will be replaced with full registration.

Existing authorisations and applications

Existing authorisations held by UK companies will continue to have effect after exit day. Any applications to request an extension of the authorisation at the review date specified should be made to the HSE.

A UK company whose substance is covered by a non-UK authorisation can continue to use that substance for the length of the EU authorisation. That UK company will need to supply the HSE with the conditions that govern that authorisation, and continue to comply with them.

Any authorisations that have been considered by the ECHA prior to exit day, but have not yet been granted authorisation, on exit day, the case will be decided by the Secretary of State with the consent of devolved administrations.

Appeals

Any appeals on decisions made by the HSE under the UK's new system of REACH will be heard by the First-tier tribunal. They may:

  • dismiss the appeal;
  • refer the decision back to the HSE for reconsideration; or
  • substitute the decision with its own.

Fees

The system of fees and charges established in Regulation (EC) 1907/2006 for submitting registration dossiers and applications for for authorisations are retained. Fees will be payable to the HSE, apart from fees for appeals which will be payable to the First-tier tribunal.

Enforcement

Enforcement authorities in the UK will continue to have their existing roles in relation to enforcement under Regulation (EC) 1907/2006. New enforcement duties are also introduced and will be enforced by the HSE in England, Wales and Scotland, and the HSE NI in Northern Ireland.

What next?

These Regulations will come into force on exit day as defined in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, although there are two dates currently defined in the Act these may be subject to change by the Government if further extensions are agreed with the EU. Although there has been a great deal of uncertainty in the Brexit process you can be certain that we will endeavour to keep you up-to-date with all the latest legislative developments.

For more information, see the:

  • REACH etc. (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations SI 2019/758.

Four smart energy systems demonstrator projects across the UK have been announced this week by Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry.

From charging electric vehicles, managing heating and power through machine learning, to storing power with lithium ion batteries and using heat pumps, these projects show how the very latest in energy innovation can be put together to provide cheaper, cleaner energy for users.

The projects include:

  • The Energy Supherhub, Oxford, led by Pivot Power LLP;
  • ReFLEX Orkney, Orkney, led by the European Marine Energy Centre;
  • Project Leo (Local Energy Oxfordshire), led by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks;
  • Smart Hub SLES, West Sussex, led by Advanced Infrastructure.

These demonstrators will show how businesses can develop local energy approaches at a scale that will create better outcomes for consumers and promote economic growth for the UK.

By the early 2020s, these demonstrators aim to prove that smarter local energy systems can deliver cleaner and cheaper energy services.

Perry commented on the excitement to see how businesses and project partners reveal how innovative tech, such as energy storage, heat networks and electric vehicles can help towards a smarter energy future.

"We are at the start of a green revolution, as we move to more digital, data-driven smart systems that will bring us cleaner and cheaper energy. These projects, backed by Government funding, are set to spark a transformation and change the way we interact with energy for the better as part of our modern Industrial Strategy".

Rob Saunders, Deputy Challenge Director, Prospering from the Energy Revolution, UK research and Innovation, said "we all need energy systems that are cheaper, cleaner and consumer-friendly. We have a great opportunity with these demonstrators to show just how innovation can deliver this energy ambition for the future. Supported by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, these projects can drive investment, create high-quality jobs and grow companies with export potential".

As part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the £102.5 million Prospering from the Energy Revolution Challenge will develop cutting-edge capabilities in local systems that deliver cleaner, cheaper and more resilient energy for consumers, while also creating high-value jobs for the UK.

The challenge brings together businesses working with the best research and expertise to transform the way energy is delivered and used. This includes providing energy in ways that consumers want by linking low-carbon power, heating and transport systems with energy storage and advanced IT to create intelligent local energy systems and services.

To receive funding projects must demonstrate new, smarter, local energy approaches at scale which can:

  • provide cleaner, cheaper, more desirable energy services for the end user;
  • lead to more prosperous and resilient communities;
  • prove new business models that are suitable for investment and can grow and replicate in the 2020s;
  • provide evidence on the impacts and efficiency of novel energy system approaches by the early 2020s.

A project has been launched in Orkney, Scotland, to create a "green" electricity grid mixing renewable energy with battery technology.

The scheme will use domestic batteries and electric vehicles to balance the local power network by meeting supply with demand.

It is being backed by £14.3 million of UK Government funding with the aim of providing electricity from renewables which do not rely on fossil fuels when turbines are not turning.

Orkney has been chosen due its high take-up of micro-generation, with 10% of homes creating their own electricity, compared to the UK average of 2.8%.

It has 2kW of renewable energy capacity per property which is 900% more than the UK average, and has four times more electric vehicles per home.

UK Energy Minister Claire Perry commented that this is a "test bed for the energy system of the future" which could be rolled out across the UK and exported around the world.

"These smart systems are a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy and will provide cheaper, greener and more flexible access to energy for everyone".

The £28.5 million project will create a "smart energy group of islands" where software balances local supply, storage and demand. It should make electricity cheaper and eventually remove the need for fossil fuels. Small batteries will be offered to homes with existing wind and solar technology while larger ones will be installed at businesses and public buildings.

Gareth Davies, from renewable energy consultants Aquatera, commented "a key part of this project is to start building in local resilience and capacity within our local energy system" instead of relying on the UK for delivering a balancing service.

Existing infrastructure in renewable energy is capable of generating 130% of Orkney's annual electricity demands. With a steady increase in drivers switching to electric vehicles, that growth is expected to increase the demand on the energy grid.  However, as cars are only used for a relatively small part of each day, the batteries in electronic vehicles can be used as an energy source when electricity demand is high.

Adele Lidderdale from Orkney Islands Council added that electric vehicles are an important part of the project, with the hope that the amount of electronic vehicles in Orkley will increase to 10%.

"In Scotland they've made commitments to reduce fossil fuel vehicles and by 2032 we need to be seeing more electric vehicles on the road".

Neil Kermode, managing director of the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) commented on the project, that "this is a way that unlocks the complicated process of using renewables for heat and transport as well as electricity".

New Guidance for Pollution Prevention
Published: 03 Apr 2019

A new series of Guidance for Pollution Prevention (GPP), formerly known as Pollution Prevention Guidelines (PPG), is now available.

They aim to provide environmental good practice guidance for the whole of the UK, and environmental regulatory guidance directly to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The Environment Agency withdrew PPGs in England back in December 2014, because they "do not provide good practice guidance" as an organisation.

So far the following GPPs have been released, with more to be added to over the coming months:


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