Updates to Environmental Legislation - Cedrec roadshow event

Yorkshire and Humber

We were delighted to be able to offer our members the opportunity to attend the recent “Carry on Complying” legislation roadshow event in Sheffield on the 2nd February 2018. The guys from Cedrec did an excellent job of informing us of relevant changes in Environmental and Health & Safety legislation that had taken place over the last year or so, and also gave us a glimpse into what may be happening in 2018 and beyond that we need to be aware of.

We really like their clear, no-nonsense approach, and their canny knack of explaining sometimes confusing and complex pieces of legislation into language that can be clearly understood. A very big thanks to Richard Clarke (Senior Environmental Consultant) and the team at Cedrec.

Richard Clarke from Cedrec explaining changes in legislation at the Sheffield roadshow.

 

We noted several items of interest:

Mandatory CSR Reporting  Companies, Partnerships and Groups (Accounts and Non-Financial Reporting) Regulations SI 2016/1245 – Changes the Companies Act 2006, and now in place as effective from 1st Jan 2017. You must include ‘non-financial information statement’ including environmental, employee, social, human rights, anti-corruption and anti-bribery matters in your report if you are a large company with more than 500 employees.

Clean Air Zones – This has been complicated by the fact that there are now 3 plans in place. The original 5 cities, revised to 42 zones of concern. There is a requirement for local councils to come up with the plans to be submitted by Sep 2018 for the original 5 cities, and by Dec 2018 for the rest. It is likely that most of these councils will go down the charging zone route over the next couple of years. Smart motorways may be used in future to reduce air pollution by limiting speed limits on major motorways such as the M1. We need to keep an eye on this legislation as it’s likely to have an impact on most businesses in the UK.

Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations SI 2017/571 Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) to be compiled by ‘competent experts’. Changes include broadened assessment areas and timeframes for stages extended and the contents of the environmental statement revised and simplified, with the creation of a new ‘biodiversity’ section incorporating previous sections on flora and fauna.

Water Abstraction and Impounding (Exemptions) Regulations SI 2017/1044 Amends the Water Act 2003, and has been underway for a long while now with a consultation in 2009 only being put into legislation in 2017. Changes to exempt arrangements. Dewatering exemptions if the activity sits within certain limits. Worth checking if you carry out this type of activity on-site.

Increases to the cost of compliance – Always of interest, in general the trend is for more severe fines for non compliance and for civil sanctions to mirror sentencing guidelines. Recent fines include Thames water (£20M), Tesco (£8M) for a leaking diesel tank which polluted local watercourses, and a fine for introduction of non-native species of £28K, and £2m to network rail for allowing the spread of Japanese knotweed. Of particular interest was a fine to a recycling company, Melksham Metals Recycling of £2M issued to the director as an individual under ‘proceeds of crime’ (POC) law. If your company uses this recycling company then YOU are in breach of the law for not carrying out appropriate duty of care checks and may be liable. Be careful, and ensure all your paperwork, and Duty of Care checks are consistently carried out.

Renewables Obligation (Amendment) (Energy Intensive Industries) Order SI 2017/1289 – Amends the Renewables Obligations Order SI 2015/1947 exempting eligible energy intensive industries from some of the costs of the renewables obligation scheme.

Changes to WEEE regulations ahead. A Consultation has been launched on potential amendments to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations SI 2013/3113. This 3 part consultation closed at the end of 2017 and is part of a Post Implementation Review of the Regulations, which is due to be completed by January 2019. One to keep an eye on.

New Guidance for Pollution Prevention.  A new series of Guidance for Pollution Prevention (GPP), formerly known as Pollution Prevention Guidelines (PPG), are now available. Aiming to provide environmental good practice guidance for the UK as the EA withdrew PPGs in England back in  2014. So far only 9 GPPs have been released. If you are unsure, then the GPP’s on netregs for NI/Scotland are a good starting point and are still regarded as ‘best practise’.

ESOS Phase 2 – now underway. Considered by some businesses as an unnecessary burden, this legislation can be an opportunity to protect from price volatility, and implementation of the recommendations within the reporting. Compliance reporting required by Dec 2019

Packaging Recovery Targets (PRN’S). New targets for 2018-2020 have been released. We note an increase in PRN’s is needed with price volatility especially over wood targets and restrictions on exports of plastic waste to China likely to be seen.

REACH Phase 3 – The final REACH compliance date is May 2018 when all substances must be registered. Most businesses are downstream users, but check with your suppliers and get new safety data sheets and make sure they are registered, if they aren’t then you might lose your supply. Keep your records – for at least 10 years!

Environmental Permitting – Amendment. New combustion plants of 1-50MW need a permit from 2018, this includes CHP. Older plants less than 5MW don’t need permits until 2029, greater than 5MW by 2024. There are exemptions based on operating hours (<500 operating hours per year, but this is ‘collective’ so if you have more than 1 plant you need to add it up) and partial exemptions for back-up generators.

It’s not law yet, but there is a F-Gas Civil Penalties Consultation in place looking at introducing fines for non-compliance with the regulations from £1K to £200K so ensure you are compliant and have leak testing in place if required and keep your records to avoid a £50K fine.

Also not in law, but the Government has published its Clean Growth Plan with intentions/plans for large investment, and measures to support businesses to improve their energy productivity by at least 20% by 2030. It includes a consultation on the energy efficiency of buildings, raising the standards in rented commercial property and an Industrial Energy Efficiency Scheme to support installations. Also a large amount of investment for  ultra low-emissions vehicles ULEV (including charge points).

There are also consultations on Energy and Carbon reporting with intentions to include reporting within the Companies Act 2006 business reporting framework, possibly digitally to report annual carbon emissions. Likely to include all ESOS and CRC obligated companies (companies with half-hourly metering). Significantly it is looking at a requirement to report progress against ESOS reports. Scope 1 & 2 emissions only (Scope 3 are voluntary). Another consultation on Invasive non-native species looking at enforcement, warning letters and fines for non compliance including restoration costs which could be significant. Updated advice and guidance was published in 2017. And a consultation on Waste Crime with a 25 year plan to eliminate it and householder fines for fly-tipping and an emphasis on domestic liability and regulating waste sites further. The government is taking this very seriously as the cost of waste-crime is significant and rising all the time. There are a large number of waste exemptions proposed that include T4 preparatory treatments (baling, shredding, sorting) and changes to how long you can store waste on site, (max 3 months) and limits to stack heights (4m) and storage limits (100m3 and 300m3 maximum combined) that will be of interest moving forwards.

There has been swift action on Plastics with the microbeads ban now in force (that just goes to show that the government can move fast if it wants to!) and rhetoric on the extension/increase of plastic bag charging. There is a call for the voluntary climate adaption reporting by local government institutions to become mandatory and for the end of non-clean coal by 2025.

The DEFRA 25 Year Environment Plan is an interesting read, but is more of a wish list than an action plan. Areas of legislation that may be impacted by it include: abstraction/groundwater, doubling resource productivity by 2050, avoidable waste – zero by 2050 and plastic by 2042 and persistent organic pollutant (POP) emissions by 2030. Europe continues to focus on the Circular Economy Package driven by directives on Waste, Packaging & Packaging Waste, Landfill, WEEE and the Energy Performance of Buildings. The Energy Efficiency Labelling Regulations requiring a rescaling transition for products that we will have to comply with regardless of Brexit.

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