Environment calendar – December 2006

United Kingdom

The environment calendar highlights key dates for proposed and existing legislation and policy and closing dates for consultation papers relating to major environment issues in the EU and England.

It will provide a useful tool for environment managers tracking new legislation for the purpose of implementing an environment management system such as ISO 14001 or EMAS.

It will also be helpful for those in environment technologies industries seeking new opportunities by highlighting upcoming legislation.

Key developments and dates this month include:

  • DEFRA have now issued a Consultation Paper on options and proposals for implementing the Environmental Liability Directive (“ELD”) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland with a response deadline of 16 February 2007. The consultation contains a discussion of the Government’s approval to transposition, noting the discretion given to Member States to go beyond the minimum requirements and the fact that ELD is both more and less stringent than the existing negotiation. It notes that harmonisation may therefore result in going beyond the minimum but that the Government’s starting point is a strong presumption in favour of minimum transposition.
  • DEFRA launched a consultation on measures to reduce carbon emissions in large non-energy intensive business and public sector organisations on 8th November 2006. It is asking for comments and suggestion on options for achieving a reduction in carbon emissions. The aim of the new schemes suggested is to reduce carbon emissions from organisations such as hotels, hospitals and banks by 1.2 million tonnes per year by 2020. The suggestions include a mandatory cap and trade proposal, a system of voluntary benchmarking and reporting, longer-term changes to building regulations, enhancing information provisions and advice to business and industry-led agreements to reduce emissions. The closing date for the consultation is 31 January 2007.
  • DEFRA launched a consultation on the controls on the handling, transfer and transport of waste on 29th November 2006. This consultation is asking for comments on current problems and ideas to improve the waste duty of care, the registration of waste carriers and the registration and control of waste brokers. Its aim is to find a new approach to waste crime, a more problem-solving approach which will prevent incidents occurring in the first place rather than trying to act as a deterrent.
  • A REACH reform deal tabled by the Finnish Presidency was accepted at an emergency trialogue meeting on 30th November 2006. The full details of this deal are as yet unknown however they include tougher rules on substituting very high concern chemicals. An ultimatum was put before dissenting countries stating that they either back the deal or they risk lengthy conciliation talks. The commission also accepted the plans meaning that the presidency did not need to find unanimity on everything rather only a qualifying majority was needed.

Points agreed at the meeting include that authorisation review times will be agreed on a case by case basis, that all authorisations need to be accompanied by a substitution plan where an alternative exists or an R&D plan where one does not, that the registration period for substances over 1,000 tonnes has been extended to 3.5 years, that commercially sensitive data will be kept confidential for 12 years, that clarification of the duty of care will be in the recitals rather than the articles, and that endocrine disruptions and other similar substances be reviewed after 6 years.

Finally, it is also proposed that the commission consider a REACH mark.