Environment calendar - April 2007

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:

Marking requirements for producers under WEEE Regulations

On 1 April 2007 the marking requirements for producers under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations (2006/3289) came into force. From this date producers must ensure all EEE placed on the market is appropriately marked (with the crossed out wheelie bin, date code and producer mark). The WEEE Regulations came into force on 2 January 2007. The Regulations implement the provisions of the WEEE Directive (2002/95/EC) in the UK. The Directive sets out that producers of electrical and electronic equipment (“EEE”) must meet the costs of collection, recycling and treatment of WEEE and creates certain obligations for distributors and retailers of EEE. The deadline for producers to register with producer compliance schemes was 15 March 2007.

Transposition of Environmental Liability Directive

30 April 2007 is the deadline for Member States to transpose the Environmental Liability Directive into national law. The Environmental Liability Directive is aimed at preventing future environmental damage by requiring industrial polluters to bear prevention and remediation costs.

Defra launched a consultation on the options for implementation of the Directive in December 2006, which closed on 28 February 2007. A further consultation and draft legislation is expected this month.

The Directive allows discretion for Member States on the implementation of particular issues. Defra is yet to finalise how the Directive will be implemented with respect to the existing contaminated land regime in the UK. However, it has indicated the following:

  • The Directive sets out fault-based liability whereas the UK contaminated land regime applies strict liability for offences. Defra has suggested maintaining strict liability for damage caused to land but applying fault-based liability for harm covered by the Directive that is not already covered under UK legislation.
  • Currently in the UK it is no defence for a person to have complied with permit conditions, whereas the Directive allows for such a defence. Defra is likely to adopt the permit compliance defence in relation only to offences introduced by the Directive.

Carbon Offsetting

Defra has launched a consultation on establishing a Code of Best Practice for the provision of carbon offsetting to UK customers. The closing date for responses is 13 April 2007.

The proposed Code would be designed to give consumers clarity and confidence when they choose to offset carbon emissions. It proposes that the most suitable carbon credits for offsetting are those from the regulated market, as they are robust and verifiable.

The aims of the code are to:

  • Educate consumers about offsetting and its role in addressing climate change;
  • Enable and encourage consumers to make active choices about offsetting;
  • Increase consumer confidence in the integrity and value for money of the offset products available to them;
  • Provide signals to the UK offset sector on the quality and verification standards to which they should aspire, so that market participants can focus their attention on developing the UK’s position as a global market leader in the field; and
  • Encourage the provision of credit types, which are consistent with the Government’s policies on meeting its Kyoto obligations and strategy for supporting the development of a robust and liquid global market infrastructure for carbon trading