Focus

Focus Archive

Environmental Policy Developments and Manufacturing: Part 1

February 2000
by Steve Walter, Health, Safety and Environment Advisor, Engineering Employers Federation

The following article provides a brief update on some of the headline current developments in environmental law. It outlines the importance/significance of environmental legislation affecting the manufacturing businesses much of which is driven by European Directives.

It is advisable for companies to be considering the impact of the proposed legislation on their environmental management systems such as ISO 14001. A few companies in the UK have taken up the European Union's Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) which specifically requires that a participating company develops a register of legislative and regulatory requirements (see details of the EEF's Environmental Register of Legislation below).

Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC)

The Pollution, Prevention and Control Act was laid in July last year. The Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) regulations are expected to take effect by (April 2000) although there may be further delays.

The regulations will introduce a new enforcement regime for many different processes including requirements to address noise and energy efficiency issues along with controls on environmental emissions.

Under the terms of the IPPC Directive (96/61/EC), the Member States were required to have national implementing legislation in place by October 31 1999, with all relevant installations brought under the regime by 2007. The DETR has therefore advised the EU that UK legislation will be late.

Companies who have processes that are currently Part B but are listed in Annex 1 of the IPPC Directive may see the biggest changes as their processes will now be listed as Part A(2) (significantly this includes 'coating operations' such as paint spraying).

Under IPPC these companies will need to apply for integrated permits, covering emissions to air, land and water. They will continue to deal with the Local Authority for air emissions but control of releases to water will be enforced by the Environment Agency.

The Fourth Consultation on the implementation of IPPC closed on 8 October 1999.

VOC (or 'Solvents') Directive

Legislation has to be in place to implement the 'Solvents' Directive by 1 April 2001, with sites phased in by 2007. The Directive applies to VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds including hydrocarbons, oxygenated and chlorinated solvents) used in a wide range of activities and processes from paint spraying to degreasing.

The DETR is planning to issue a consultation paper in January 2000, with a three-month response period. There will be a second consultation in June or July 2000, with the aim of having Regulations in place by the end of 2000.

The issues for consultation are likely to be:

DETR does not support the option of having a National Plan for compliance, but they will consider offering sector-specific plans if sectors feel these are suitable. EEF is closely involved in the progress of UK regulations.

EU Ozone Depleting Substances Regulation

The EU is currently working on an update of its 1994 Regulation on Substances that deplete the ozone layer. This phased out the production and supply of such substances, for example, CFCs (eg used in refrigeration and as solvents), HCFCs and halons (e.g. used in fire suppression systems). The updated Regulation will tighten these controls further, to ban all use of these substances. Organisations who had closed systems using CFCs or halons, being topped up with stockpile sources, will need to replace these substances altogether, when the Regulation is finalised. The final version is likely in Spring 2000.

The DETR has already produced a leaflet advising companies about the bans on use that will be enacted as a result of this Regulation. Copies of the leaflet 'New controls on ozone depleting substances' are available from Teresa Knott, DETR, Tel: 0171 890 5233.

Packaging Regulations

From 1 January 2000 the turnover threshold for companies subject to the Producer Responsibility (Packaging Waste) Regulations has been reduced from £5m to £2m and 50 tonnes of packaging handled (note the comments on wood below).

Also, from 1 January 2000, revised regulations govern the percentage share that is used to calculate the recovery and recycling obligations of the packaging chain sectors. The change is one of the outcomes of consultation on a review of the packaging Regulations. Subject to Parliamentary approval, changes will include:

Contaminated Land

The DETR has published four consultation documents relating to the forthcoming Contaminated Land regime. The consultative documents include: draft Regulations (The Contaminated Land (England) Regulations 1999) and, published as a draft DETR Circular, a draft guide to the Regulations, draft Statutory Guidance, a statement of Government policy and a description of the new regime for Contaminated Land.

The draft Circular outlines the new regime, explains the interaction with other regimes such as the new Pollution Prevention and Control Act, explains why the Government has decided to pursue a "suitable for use" approach to the remediation of contaminated land and includes a glossary of terms.

The new contaminated land regime is set out in Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 - which was inserted into that Act by section 57 of the Environment Act 1995.

Part IIA provides, for the first time, an explicit statutory definition of contaminated land, focusing on risks arising in the context of the current use and circumstances of land. The regime places specific duties on local authorities to inspect their areas to identify land falling within this definition and, where they do, to require its remediation in line with the "suitable for use" approach.

The regime also provides detailed rules for assigning liabilities for contaminated land, based on the "polluter pays" principle. The Environment Agency has specific roles under the new regime, providing site-specific advice to local authorities, dealing with defined "special sites" and monitoring and reporting on progress made.

Consultation closed on 6 December 1999.

Groundwater Regulations

The Environment Agency is currently consulting on guidance to accompany the Groundwater Regulations 1998. The regulations were made under the Groundwater Directive (80/68/EEC) and took effect on 1 April 99. Their purpose is to protect groundwater - an important source of drinking water - from contamination.

The regulations effectively extend existing controls, contained in the Water Resources Act 1991, over the discharge of polluting matter to controlled waters (including groundwater). The substances to be controlled fall into two lists. List 1 substances are the most toxic and must be prevented from entering groundwater. They include pesticides, sheep dip, solvents, hydrocarbons, mercury cadmium and cyanide. List 2 substances are less dangerous, but if disposed of in large amounts could be harmful to groundwater. They include some heavy metals and ammonia (present in sewage), phosphorus and its compounds. (Direct discharges of both List I and List II substances still require discharge consent under WRA 1991).

The regulations require that 'disposal', or tipping for the purposes of disposal, to land of the listed substances may be carried out only if prior authorisation has been given by the Environment Agency. They also set out the enforcement powers for the Environment Agency such as for serving notices and taking prosecutions.

Climate Change Levy

The Climate Change Levy is an example of an economic instrument introduced as part of sustainable development to help control the amount of carbon dioxide released from the activities of industry and commerce. The Chancellor announced significant changes to the levy in his pre-budget speech on 9 November 1999, following what the Treasury has described as 'extensive consultation with business'. EEF has been actively engaged in the consultation and several of the revisions are in line with, or closer to, the EEF's position, 'though there are still matters to address.

Significantly, the overall estimated tax income from the levy will be reduced from £1.75bn to £1bn and there will be an 80 per cent discount for energy intensive sectors that sign energy efficiency ('negotiated') agreements. All the revenues raised will be recycled to business via a 0.3 percentage point cut in employer's National Insurance Contributions and additional support for energy efficiency schemes.

The levy will incorporate:

The rates of the climate change levy are now expected to be:

Energy Product

Levy rate in 2001-02
(pence per kilowatt hour)

Electricity

0.43 (down from 0.6)

Gas

0.15 (down from 0.21)

Coal

0.15 (down from 0.21)

EEF Register of Environmental Legislation

EEF has produced a very popular Register of Environmental Legislation which provides a comprehensive outline of environmental legislation and supporting guidance affecting manufacturing and other businesses in England and Wales.

Used extensively by ISO 14001 companies, its one hundred and eighteen pages are packed with information invaluable to those companies undertaking an initial environmental review, conducting a compliance audit or carrying out their ongoing environmental management review. It contains not only a list of relevant legislation but, importantly, a short summary of the legal requirements. The guide is up to date as of May 1999. A revised issue is expected in Spring 2000.

For your copy contact EEF Publication Sales, Broadway House, Tothill Street, London SW1H 9NQ, UK Tel: +44 (0)171 222 7777 or Fax: + 44 (0)171 222 0792.

Part 2 of this article will appear in the March 2000 edition of Health and Saftey World Focus.

EEF

The EEF (Engineering Employers' Federation) is the representative voice of engineering in the UK. The EEF is a nationwide federation of 13 regional Associations and the ECIA, the Engineering Construction Industry Association. The EEF has a growing membership of over 5,700 companies of all sizes, employing some 900,000 people from every sector of engineering, manufacturing, engineering construction and technology-based industries.

EEF provides an extensive range of Health, Safety and Environmental consultancy services through its regional Associations and ECIA. For further information visit the EEF website www.eef.org.uk.

Additional information

Environment Plus CD-ROM contains the full text of over 450 pieces of UK and EC legislation, plus publications from the Environment Agency, HM Inspectorate of Pollution and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, such as Planning Policy Guidelines, Process Guidelines, Pollution Prevention Guidelines, IPR Guidance Notes, 2nd series, HMIP Chief Inspector's Guidance Notes. In addition, Environment Plus contains the bibliographic database from the DETR Information Services which continues to expand and currently contains references to over 140,000 references to worldwide information.