Thursday 12th October Environmental Legislation update.
iiE Yorkshire & Humber and Pennine-pack held our annual legislation update at the Carriageworks in Leeds on 12th October with a keen audience of environmentalists and our guest speakers Richard Clarke, Senior Environment & Safety Consultant at Cedrec Information Systems and Jenny Lawson, Manager at Enterprise Europe Yorkshire. We covered a lot of legislation. Below is a summary of the most important points that I noted, along with a couple of personal favourites.
The Bigger picture
- Starting with the bigger picture, you may have missed the changes created by the Insurance Act 2015 which requires businesses to review their disclosure processes to ensure that those responsible for procuring insurance disclose all matters they will be presumed to know. Deliberately withholding information, or failing to make reasonable inquiries about the risks your business is subject to could make the policy invalid. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/4/notes/division/3
- DECC, the Department for Energy & Climate Change was dissolved in July last year and was replaced to some extent by BEIS, the Department for Business, energy and Industrial Strategy.
- DEFRA, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has agreed to be subject to some of the biggest cuts in the current round of spending cuts. Some folks might question whether the department will be able to meet its obligations with the cuts proposed.
- In the Governments Sprint Budget and the associated Finance Act there were a few points of interest:
- Consultation on new packaging targets for 2018 – 2020.
- Landfill tax (Standard) was increased from £82.60 to £84.40.
- Abolish Carbon Reduction Commitment and offsetting increase to Climate Change Levy https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rates-and-allowances-climate-change-levy/climate-change-levy-rates
- New minimum standards for energy efficiency in rented buildings come into effect from April 2018 – https://youtu.be/RFOLQMGKyaA There is also a new standard, ISO 52000, to assess energy performance of buildings.
- Changes to EU rules regarding Energy Efficiency rating of new products sold after Jan 2019. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2016/579091/EPRS_BRI(2016)579091_EN.pdf
- Changes to the Environmental Permitting regs consolidate and transpose requirements of 15 EU Directives. https://www.gov.uk/topic/environmental-management/environmental-permits/latest
- The UK is already legally bound by the Climate Change Act 2008 to reduce emissions 80% by 2050,and the Carbon Emissions Reduction Bill proposes to stretch that target to ‘zero’ emissions compared to 1990.https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2017-19/carbonemissionreductions.html
- Air pollution in the UK is higher than permitted by EU law in some areas and the Government have been given a ‘final warning’ to take action.
- There is also a new directive that will impose further limits on a number of pollutants – https://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/air/national-emission-ceilings/national-emission-ceilings-directive
- Clean Air Zones are proposed in 32 major conurbations across the UK. These will impose charges of up to £120 per day for polluting vehicles to enter the zones. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/air-quality-clean-air-zone-framework-for-england There are also plans to try to reduce roadside pollution on motorways be permanently managing traffic to 60mph, including the M1 near Rotherham.
- The EU Withdrawal Bill which will set the framework to keep British legislation in force when we leave the EU. https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2017-19/europeanunionwithdrawal.html
- There are some grey areas surrounding whether and for how long the European Court of Justice will be able to hold the UK to account. There will also be some uncertainty about whether the UK will have to maintain some of the standards that were imposed by the Treaty of Rome, particularly Article 11 that currently protects Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection principals and Article 191 that requires us to consider the Precautionary principal and the polluter pays principal.
- In Europe, the next phase of REACH comes into effect in May 2018 when some of the substances that you currently use may cease to be available if you supplier does not jump over the next hurdle. Its worth checking with your suppliers for any materials that might be affected. There are q12 ‘substances of very high concern’ that are to be phased out by 2021. The REACH Regulations are also going to be reviewed…
- There are changes to Environmental Impact Assessment rules that affect the Town & Country Planning (EIS) regs (and equivalents in Scotland, Wales & NI. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2017/571/contents/made#
Other interesting stuff
- DEFRA (and the EA) still have enough staff to enforce the rules & regs
- The UK has issued more fines for non-compliance with the EU emissions trading system (ETS) than any other country.
- The Environment Agency have served around 500 enforcement notices for failure to comply with the requirements of the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS).
- Between January and August the Environment Agency accepted £1.8million under the Civil Sanctions regulations, of which over £1.4million was for breaches of the packaging regulations.
- This included a record-breaking settlement with Costcutter supermarkets of over £650,000 for failing to be registered.
- At the other end of the spectrum, showing that the EA chase businesses large and small, CBEE (Europe) (owner of Burts Bees brand) were stung with a £1,500 penalty.
- Over in the USA, you may remember the case where 21 children are represented in a lawsuit against the federal government, claiming that its failure to sufficiently cut emissions violates their constitutional right to life, liberty and property. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/03/kids-sue-us-government-climate-change/ There are a couple of others too – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/23/climate-change-government-court-cases-study OK, it’s not in the UK yet, but I am sure these are a taste of things to come.
- In Wales, there will be a new Landfill Disposals Tax from April 2018. We expect it to be largely in line with the rest of the UK initially.
- The Scottish Government has banned fracking.
- A number of the Guidance For Pollution Prevention (GPPs) (for things like oil storage) have been updated and are applicable in Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland. Currently, there is no equivalent document in England, so if you want to be able to show that you took reasonable steps to comply, these are the best reference points to compare your performance against.
- Finally, I need to mention that our friends at the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (Known as the LEP) have a number of projects that may be able to help your business with a grant or loan. Take al look – http://www.the-lep.com/for-business/business-finance/lep-grants/
John Mooney, October 2017
iiE Yorkshire & Humber
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