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The Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2018/206 have been published, and will come into force on 17 January 2019.

They make updates to existing Regulations on fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases). They feature the introduction of new requirements for businesses on labelling of equipment containing F-gases, the inclusion of work with refrigeration units or refrigerated trucks and trailers in several F-gas offences, and a new requirement for businesses transferring F-gas work to another organisation.

They also contain a new certification requirement for work with F-gases in stationary refrigeration, air conditioning, heat pumps and the refrigeration units of trucks and trailers. There is also a variation in the existing provisions on certification for work with F-gases in electrical switchgear.

Legislative Background

F-gases are, in the short term, harmless to humans, animals and plants. However, in the long term, they have a very high Global Warming Potential (GWP), much higher than carbon dioxide, contributing to rising global temperatures.

EU legislation therefore requires that the use of F-gases is restricted and monitored. Laws on F-gases have therefore been compiled for Northern Ireland, as F-gases are used in a number of sectors of industry.

The Regulations make several amendments to the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2015/425, to take into account the number of EU Regulations which set new requirements for some industry sectors within Northern Ireland.

A number of new offences is therefore included in the new Regulations for businesses and employees in Northern Ireland using fluorinated greenhouse gases. These new offences include:

  • changes to business activities for which certification for work with fluorinated greenhouse gases is required;
  • updates to the offences on the labelling of products containing fluorinated greenhouse gases;
  • the inclusion of work with refrigeration units of refrigerated trucks and trailers in offences on fluorinated greenhouse gases;
  • requirement for businesses transferring work with fluorinated greenhouse gases to another business to ensure that the second business has the appropriate certificate to work legally with fluorinated greenhouse gases.

 

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSE NI) have released their annual performance and accountability report for 2017/18.

It covers the annual statistics for fatal injuries and other reportable injuries.

Key figures from the report include:

  • reported fatalities are down from the previous year, from 16 to 11 people:
    • 7 occurred in agriculture,
    • 3 in construction, and
    • 1 other work activities;
  • over the past 5 years the most common causes of reported fatalities were:
    • falls (22 fatalities),
    • vehicle movement (12 fatalities),
    • struck by object (12 fatalities),
    • animals (10 fatalities);
  • reported major injuries increased significantly from 357 in 2016/17 to 453 in 2017/18;
  • reported over 3 day injuries were also up from 1680 to 1898 reported in 2017/18.

The industry breakdown for all reported injuries is as follows:

  • 28% manufacturing;
  • 25% public services;
  • 20% education;
  • 9% health;
  • 4% construction;
  • 14% remainder industries.

The causal breakdown for over 3 day injuries is as follows:

  • 24% caused by handling;
  • 17% caused by slips and trips;
  • 15% caused by assault/violence;
  • 11% caused by being struck by something (including vehicles);
  • 7% caused by fall from height;
  • 26% remainder.

The causal breakdown for major injuries is as follows:

  • 32% caused by slips and trips;
  • 24% caused by fall from height;
  • 13% caused by being struck by something (including vehicles);
  • 8% caused by machinery;
  • 6% caused by handling;
  • 17% remainder.

There was also an increase in the number of complaints received by the HSE NI relating to alleged unsatisfactory working conditions and work-related activities. In 2017/18 there were 869 complaints received, a 7% increase on the previous year.

Key trends

To summarise all the above in a snapshot, the HSE NI have highlighted the following key trends in work-related injuries:

  • fatalities down 31% to 11, compared to 16 in the previous year;
  • fatalities in the agriculture sector increased by 1 compared to 2016-17 with 7 fatalities in this sector in 2017-18;
  • fatalities in the construction sector remained unchanged compared to 2016-17 with 3 fatalities in this sector again in 2017-18;
  • major injuries up 27% on last year  to 453; and
  • all reportable injuries up by 13% on last year to 1898. 

For more information, see the:

WEEE amendments introduce open scope
Published: 09 Jan 2019

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations SI 2018/1214 came into force on 1 January 2019.

They amend the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations SI 2013/3113 which implement Directive 2012/19/EU on the same subject, primarily to implement the "open scope" principle to bring all electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) into the scope of Directive 2012/19/EU unless exempt or excluded and retain the current UK WEEE system product categories.

What is open scope?

In the context of WEEE, in "open scope" unless an electrical product is specifically exempted, then it is assumed to be in scope.

This reverses the position of "closed scope", whereby any electrical product not specifically mentioned is considered as out of scope.

The WEEE Directive 2012/19/EU introduced "open scope" from 15 August 2018, so all EEE placed on the market falls into scope unless specifically exempt or excluded. These changes involved a re-categorisation of EEE from the existing 10 categories (the UK has four additional sub-categories) to six new categories.

These six new categories are as follows:

  • temperature exchange equipment: fridges, freezers, air conditioning, etc;
  • screens, monitors, and equipment containing screens having a surface greater than 100cm²: TVs, computer monitors, etc;
  • lamps;
  • large equipment (any external dimension more than 50cm): washing machines, dishwashers, electric stoves, cookers, luminaires, large printers, copying equipment, etc;
  • small equipment (no external dimension more than 50cm): vacuum cleaners, calculators, video cameras, cameras, hi-fi equipment, watches and clocks, smoke detectors, payment systems, etc;
  • small IT and telecommunication equipment (no external dimension more than 50cm): mobile phones, tablets, routers, laptops, GPS, printers, etc.

These Regulations, therefore, provide for the introduction of "open scope" in the UK from 1 January 2019, whilst maintaining the existing categories to minimise burdens of EU legislation on businesses at a time when the UK is leaving the EU.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is currently working with industry to establish protocols that will map data from the 14 UK categories to the six Directive product categories to be used when reporting to the European Commission. This will ensure compliance with Member State reporting obligations.

Additional amendments

These Regulations also make a series of other amendments, in order to:

Transitional provision

A transitional provision is also established, in relation to the approval of schemes in the case of a scheme that has been approved by SEPA, where a scheme member has its registered office or, where it does not have a registered office, its principal place of business, in England or outside the UK.

The transitional provision applies from 1 January 2019 until 31 October 2019.

The output of British power stations fell this year to levels last seen almost a quarter of a century ago, while renewable energy achieved a lion's share of the UK electricity supply.

The reduced need for power came despite there being 8 million more people living in the UK. Analysts said the figures were a sign of increasingly efficient use of energy and the country's changing economy.

The UK website Carbon Brief, which analysed Government and industry data, found that 335 terawatt-hours were generated by power plants last year, down by around 1% on the year before. Since 2005 the level has fallen by 16%.

Simon Evans, policy editor at Carbon Brief stated "it could be a combination of more efficient appliances, energy-saving lightbulbs and, more recently, LEDs. Then there's supermarkets installing better fridges, industry using more efficient pumps. Across all of those businesses, efficiency will have been going up. And of course there's the changing nature of industry in the UK".

He added that the financial crisis may also have played a role in making homes and businesses more careful with their energy use.

While generation fell almost every year between 2008 and 2014, it remained stable between 2015 and 2017 but has began declining again in 2018.

Previous research by the Committee on Climate Change found that more energy efficient appliances helped save the average household £290 a year between 2008 and 2017.

Evans commented that continuing to use energy more efficiently would help the UK reach its binding climates goals, adding that "using less as an end in itself isn't the point. But it is the case that meeting carbon targets is made easier if we use energy efficiently".

Data from the National Grid showed that 2018 was the greenest year to date for electricity generation, as more power is sourced from renewable sources and less from coal. The carbon intensity from electricity generation was down 6.8% last year and has more than halved since 2013.

The analysis by Carbon Brief found that renewable sources including biomass, hydro, solar and wind power supplied a record 33% of electricity this year, up from 29% last year. Renewables were just 6.7% of the mix in 2009.

Green energy was boosted primarily by new windfarms connecting to the grid, as well as new biomass plants, which included the conversion of a coal unit at Drax power station in North Yorkshire and the conversion of a former coal plant at Lynemouth, Northumberland.

Meanwhile, the coal-driven output was down 25%, nuclear generation down 8% and gas despite being the top source of electricity supplies, fell by 4%.

Shell has announced that it plans to spend up to 3.2 billion a year on green energy to move away from a future of gas and oil.

The head of the gas and new energy unit, Maarten Wetselaar, which generates a third of the company's revenues, said he wanted to raise Shell's investment in low carbon energy. He expressed hopes that if initial investments give a good return, he can argue for an increase from 2020.

Maarten Wetselaar said in an interview with the Guardian:

"I would like my current business to be financially credible enough for not only the company but shareholders, to want to double it and look at more".

Shell pledges to continue investing in alternative fuels to meet the rising demand for transport to enable a low-carbon energy future. The company is currently a leader in the development of biofuels which produce fewer CO2 emissions than petrol. The company also explores the electric car market, installing more fast-charging stations for electric cars, as well as working towards expanding fueling stations for hydrogen-fuelled electric vehicles.

Many major oil companies have begun to transition into low carbon energy after a stronger Government push on global warming, with Shell considered one of the industry leaders.

Famous hot springs to heat Bath Abbey
Published: 08 Jan 2019

The state-of-the-art Bath Abbey is expecting some refurbishment works to install an eco-friendly system of heating by using the hot water from the local hot spring as part of the £19.3m Footprint refurbishment project.

Currently, contractors are surveying the great Roman drain which carries hot water to direct some of the heat towards the Victorian Gothic structure. When the energy from the spring is harnessed and converted, it has the potential to produce 1.5MW of continuous energy to support a ground source heat pump system.

The director of the refurbishment project, Alix Gilmer, said: "The abbey's Victorian heating system is sadly outdated, inefficient and expensive to maintain. This combined with the work we're doing as part of our Footprint project to repair the abbey's collapsing floor makes this the ideal times for us to install a new underfloor heating system and is a truly exciting way of using Bath's most famous resource to create sustainable energy.

The Footprint project also involves:

  • creating new spaces for all - making the Abbey more accessible by providing modern meeting, catering and toilet facilities;
  • enriching worship - providing a more comfortable worshipping space and building a new Song School;
  • repairing the Abbey floor; and
  • retelling the ancient story - creating a Discovery Centre that will tell the history and the story of the Abbey.

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