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The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has published a document that is part of the series of guidance documents that aim to help in preparation for Brexit if there's no deal made with the European Union.

The guidance claims that such a scenario is unlikely, given the mutual interests of the UK and the EU in securing a negotiated outcome of the UK's departure. Nevertheless, a "no deal" scenario must be taken into account if in March 2019 there will be no agreement between the parties and Brexit takes place.

REACH in the EU

Currently, the UK chemicals industry is regulated by a framework greatly based on the EU legislation. The main piece, which is the cornerstone for the EU-wide chemicals trade, is Regulation (EC) 1907/2006, on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), which also establishes a European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the organisation that specialises in assessment and control of the risks posed by chemical substances, essentially putting that Regulation into practice.

That Regulation requires all companies who manufacture, market and use chemicals to register with ECHA and puts additional controls in place to regulate the hazardous chemicals.

A no-deal scenario

If UK and EU fail to reach an agreement before 29 March 2019, a "no-deal" scenario will take place. Such a scenario would not be legally committed to medium- or long-term regulatory alignment with the European Economic Area (EEA).

In that case, the EU Withdrawal Act 2018 will give the powers to replace the EU legislation with a domestic regulatory framework on the "exit day" and establish a domestic equivalent currently performed by ECHA. The legislation introduced by that Act would aim to preserve REACH provisions as far as possible, while making necessary technical changes.

It is intended to deploy the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as a UK regulatory authority to maintain the existing standards of protection of human health and the environment.

The new regulatory framework would:

  • enable the registration of new chemicals through a UK IT system which would be similar to the EU system;
  • provide the specialist capacity to evaluate the impact of chemicals on health and the environment;
  • ensure sufficient regulatory enforcement capacity in the HSE, the Environment Agency and other regulators, enabling them to recommend controls in response to the hazards and risks of substances; and
  • provide an appropriate policy function for DEFRA and the devolved administrations.

Implications

A "no-deal" scenario would mean that:

  • companies registered with REACH would no longer be able to sell into the EEA market without transferring their registrations to an EEA-based organisation, which could force them to take actions to preserve their EEA market access; and
  • UK downstream users that import chemicals from an EEA country would face new requirements put in place by the UK where importers would have a duty to register chemicals under the UK-version of REACH; and
  • UK downstream users of chemical authorisations would no longer be able to rely on authorisation decisions made by ECHA addressed to companies in the remaining EEA countries.

Measures to ensure continued access to the UK market and maintaining existing safety standards

To ensure continuity of business in the chemical sector, the UK Government aims to:

  • carry across the existing REACH registrations held by UK-based companies directly into the UK's replacement of REACH, where registrations will be "grandfathered" into the UK regime or validated by the HSE;
  • set up a transitional notification process for UK companies importing chemicals from the EEA before the UK leaves the EU that don't hold a REACH registration, to reduce the risk of interruption to the supply chain;
  • carry into the UK system all existing authorisations to continue the use of higher-risk substances held by the UK companies.

Necessary actions

To ensure the UK authorities have the necessary information to regulate the use of chemicals in the UK in a no-deal scenario, the companies:

  • would need to validate their existing registration with the HSE, open an account on the new UK IT system and provide some basic information on their existing registration within 60 days of the UK leaving the EU;
  • with grandfathered registrations would have two years from the day the UK leaves the EU to provide the HSE with the full data package that supported their original EU registration which is held on the ECHA IT system;
  • will be required to notify the HSE and provide some basic information on the chemicals within 180 days of UK leaving the EU, for businesses that imported chemicals from the EEA, but did not have an EU REACH registration, where a full registration with the UK IT system will follow;
  • will be responsible, in the case of importing chemicals, for identifying appropriate risk management measures and recommending them to their customers.

Access to EEA market

Companies based in the UK with existing REACH registrations who wish to maintain EEA market access would need to follow the guidance provided by the ECHA website on the steps they need to take. It is possible that existing UK registrants, who wish to retain their EU REACH registration, would need to transfer their registrations to an appropriate EEA-based entity or develop completely new working relationships with their EEA customers. Such actions would have to take place before the UK leaves the EU.

Additional guidance

The HSE has also produced guidance which should be read alongside the above in the event of a no-deal.

It includes:

  • further details on implications for businesses, including for:
    • existing EU REACH registration holders,
    • downstream users;
  • a series of scenarios that sets out a number of actions that your company would need to investigate so you can prepare for a no-deal;
  • information on UK REACH after the UK leaves the EU without a deal, and specifically for:
    • new registrations,
    • authorisations,
    • safety data sheets,
    • restrictions,
    • PPORD exemptions,
    • only representative provision,
    • a UK IT system (UK REACH-IT) mirroring EU REACH-IT;
  • Appendices on:
    • grandfathering data submission requirements,
    • grandfathering data submission requirements for intermediates,
    • notification requirements for UK downstream users and distributors of EU REACH registered chemicals.

For more information, see the:

People running 'tip shops' say that an increasing number of people are buying used goods at waste sites and dumps.

A tip shop in Newport has seen its footfall double in the past year and sold 21 tonnes of goods in October which could have ended up in landfill. Another shop in Llantrisant, Rhondda Cynon Taff, has sold more than 50,000 items since April 2017.

Shops in Treherbet and Maesteg, Bridgend are set to open by March 2019.

The shops allow people to drop off goods to the refuse site, like they would to a charity shop, rather than the unwanted goods going straight to landfill. The shops allow those who can not afford to buy brand new goods the chance to get them for cheaper.

Paula Perry who runs 'The Shed' at the Llantrisant site commented "people who come in are buying toys ready to put away for Christmas, whereas they really perhaps couldn't afford them (from normal shops)".

"The children are having items for Christmas perhaps they wouldn't have had before".

People who visit the site confirm they are buying their Christmas presents from tip shops, as they can purchase children's toys for a pound that would be £40 brand new.

The 50,000 items the shop has sold in the last 18 months has diverted about 102 tonnes of goods away from landfill.

Phil Hurst from Wastesavers, which runs a tip shop in Newport, said the shops are a "growth industry".

He noted that footfall has doubled and 140 tonnes of waste has been sold since April 2018.

There is an ambition for a shop at every tip in Wales, as "in austere times this is a valuable resource".

Sainsbury's ad sparks complaints
Published: 03 Dec 2018

It's that time of year again, when television is awash with Christmas adverts, seemingly from retailers trying to compete with each other for the best advert rather than actually concentrating on advertising a product. However, Sainsbury's festive ad has received several complaints over safety fears.

For those who have not seen the advert, it involves lots of children performing a song on stage, with proud parents watching on from the audience. As the song progresses, a Christmas scene unravels behind the children. As part of this, several children dressed as Christmas lights run across the stage and the lead child, dressed as a plug, runs into a socket, at which point the Christmas tree at the back of the stage lights up.

It is this particular part of the advert that led to 35 people complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority over fears that the socket scene will encourage children to play with sockets. The Agency is now investigating the matter.

However, this particular series of complains seems to have divided social media users, with many coming out in support of "Plug Boy". The scene has even started the #PlugLife hashtag on twitter!

Tell us what you think!

We all know how important it is that electrical safety is taken seriously, especially when children are involved. Do you think the complaints are valid or, as social media claims, are they ruining the fun? Let us know your thoughts by tweeting us @cedrec_news.

For more information, see:

  • INDG231 - Electrical safety and you;
  • INDG236 - Maintaining portable electric equipment in low-risk environments;
  • HSG107 - Maintaining portable electrical equipment.

Residents and visitors to Primrose Hill in London were treated to a special Christmas lights display this year. The lights were switched on by former model Jo Wood in front of an excited crowd, who undoubtedly enjoyed them for the three days they were on.

Camden council decided to remove the lights adorning the upmarket street after only three days, branding them a health and safety risk. Council inspectors found "electrical terminations in a dangerous condition" with attachments low enough to be touched by children and cables strung across the carriageway.

Councillor Adam Harrison said, "Engineers assessed the lights and did not deem them to be safe. Electrical currents were jumping between these shoddily fixed up lights, which were frankly a death trap for residents. We cannot allow people to install dangerous electrics - all such installations need proper testing and permission." A promise has been made to put up some safe decorations as soon as possible.

Mr Harrison added, "Camden council puts residents safety at the heart of what we do. This applies as much to our streets as to the action we take to look after residents in dangerous and inadequate housing."

Former councillor Jonny Bucknell, who helped to organise the Christmas lights through Primrose Hill Business Association, was not impressed that the lights had been completely removed, "By all means switch them off if there’s an electrical fault, we’ll get it rectified, but to take them away? Taking them off the blooming lampposts, that’s the point of no return. I am stunned, completely stunned. I am standing on a dark street looking out on a complete lack of Christmas lights that we have put a whole load of work into all year. They’re in some pound somewhere, I’m going to have to pay to pick them up.”

The Local Government Association, which represents 370 councils across England and Wales, has warned that local communities have missed out on around 10,500 affordable homes because of permitted development rights.

Permitted development rights are granted for smaller, uncontentious developments that don't really need a planning authority to make a decision on. Typically, it includes development such as small domestic extensions, some changes of use, temporary buildings, small non-domestic extensions etc.

The permitted development rights have been extended in recent years by the government in response to their clear desire to build more houses. As a result, some offices can be converted to residential uses without the need for planning permission, subject to strict conditions. However, allowing developers to legally bypass the planning system means they do not need to convert offices into affordable housing units, which is beginning to cause an issue.

Since 2015, 42,130 housing units in England have been made from offices thanks to permitted development rights. But because the development is not required to be approved by a local planning authority, the conversions did not include affordable housing conditions. This is something of a concern to many local councils.

As a result, the Local Government Association is calling for the government to drop plans to further extend permitted development rights, and is renewing its call to actually drop the rights altogether.

Martin Tett, the housing spokesman for the Local Government Association, is concerned that permitted development removes the ability for local communities to shape the area they live in and that they diminish high standards of building, as well as resulting in the loss of affordable housing. He said: "The loss of office space is also leaving businesses and start-ups without any premises in which to base themselves. Extending permitted development rules risks exacerbating these problems.

"Planning is not a barrier to house-building, with councils approving nine in 10 planning applications. It is vital that councils and local communities have a voice in the planning process. Councils, which are answerable to their residents, must be given back their ability to oversee all local developments to ensure they are good quality and help build prosperous places."

For more information, see the:

  • Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order SI 2015/596.

Wembley enforcement notice quashed
Published: 03 Dec 2018

Back in April 2017, Brent Borough Council issued an enforcement notice against Oakington Manor Primary School because it had implemented, without planning permission "a material change of use from a school to a mixed-use as a school and a car park (i.e parking that is not ancillary to the use of the school)".

Under the planning legislative framework, any change of use of a building or a space requires planning permission, although there are exceptions to this contained in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order SI 1987/764 and the town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order SI 2015/596.

The issue arose after it was discovered that the school was offering the use of its car park during events at Wembley Stadium, which is nearby. As this use of the car park is not ancillary to the school, it should be considered as a mixed-use development which is then technically a change of use of the school and car park.

The school appealed against the enforcement notice, and the appeal was heard through an inquiry.

During the inquiry, the planning inspector noted that the allegation against the school failed to take into consideration other lawful uses of the school building, other than as a school. It is allowed to host wedding receptions for example. It, therefore, became clear that the main issue the Council had was with the use of the car park for events occurring off-site. The Council, therefore, acknowledged its allegation needed to change so it targeted parking for off-site activities only.

However, the school demonstrated that the change of use, i.e. using the car park for events at Wembley Stadium, had started more than 10 years previous to the enforcement notice being issued and the use had occurred continuously throughout the period.

To counter this, the Council claimed that this alternative use of the car park escalated in scale in 2016, during the time Tottenham Hotspur occupied Wembley Stadium for all of their home matches, and that is when the change of use occurred. However, the planning inspector did not agree, and concluded that this particular mixed-use had occurred for more than 10 years.

As a result, the planning inspector directed that the wording of the enforcement notice had to be formally altered to ensure it referred specifically to the use of the car park for off-site events, and then once the correction is made, stated that the appeal is allowed and the enforcement notice would be quashed. This means the school is free to offer the use of the car park to those attending events at Wembley Stadium.


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