Edie Environmental Legislation Summary, July 06

Recent changes to legislation which will impact on the environmental sector in the UK, Europe and internationally come under the spotlight in this Semple Fraser and Edie News monthly round-up of new law and policy. Among the developments this month we look at the second reading of the EU's Groundwater Directive, the introduction of RoHS regulations, restrictions on ozone depleting substances and new rules for waste management in Northern Ireland.

EUROPEAN LEGISLATION

Proposed Groundwater Directive (COM (2003) 550)

At the second reading by the European Parliament of the draft Groundwater Directive, a number of amendments have been proposed following the common position adopted by the Council, with a number of first reading amendments having been reintroduced.

Following a large majority vote, the amendments introduced by the Parliament aim to "beef up" the directive on a number of points, by improving sampling methodologies, tightening up the wording of the legislation and closing loopholes to prevent the directive being undermined.

The Parliament also wants to widen the scope of the directive by including a definition of deterioration which would mean "any slight, anthropogenically induced and persistent increase in concentrations of pollutants in relation to the status quo in the groundwater", as well as the notions of background concentration and baseline concentration.

While a single standard for all countries is only introduced in respect of nitrates and pesticides, for around ten other substances, the directive leaves it up to Member States to lay down limit values, which must be established by December 2008 at the latest.

The standards adopted should be reviewed five years after the entry into force of the directive (i.e. 2011 if the legislative procedure is completed in 2006) and every six years thereafter.

MEPs also want the directive to be the subject of an overall efficiency assessment by 2015.

Details can be found here.


UK LEGISLATION

UK Wide

The Packaging (Essential Requirements) (Amendment) Regulations 2006

The Packaging (Essential Requirements) (Amendment) Regulations 2006 were laid before Parliament on 7 June 2006 and are due to come into force on 1 July 2006. The Regulations amend the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2003, as amended, which implement Articles 9 and 11 of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (Directive 94/62/EC), as amended by Directive 2004/12/EC ("the 2004 Directive") and Commission Decisions 1999/177/EC, 2001/171/EC, 2006/340/EC and 2001/171/EC.

Regulation 2(2) of the new Regulations amends the definition of packaging to reflect the wording in the 2004 Directive. Regulation 2(3) removes the date of 30th June 2006 for the expiry of the derogation for glass packaging in relation to the heavy metal concentration levels established in the 1994 Directive, which was set by Commission Decision 2001/171/EC, in accordance with Decision 2006/340/EC prolonging the validity of conditions for a derogation for glass packaging in relation to those levels.

See link to OPSI website here.


The Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2006

The Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2006 were laid before Parliament on 6 June 2006 and are due to come into force on 1 July 2006.

The Regulations revoke and replace the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2005 which implemented the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS) Directive (Directive 2002/95/EC), as amended.

The Regulations incorporate the further amendments to the Annex of the Directive made by Commission Decisions 2005/717/EC, 2005/747/EC and 2006/310/EC, which amend the list of exempt applications set out in the Annex.

Applicable to new electrical and electronic equipment within the categories set out in Schedule 1 and to electric light bulbs and to luminaires for use in households that are put on the market on or after 1st July 2006, the Regulations set out the general requirements relating to the putting on the market on or after 1st July 2006 of electrical and electronic equipment are set out in regulations 7 to 9.

New equipment put on the market must not contain more than the permissible maximum concentration values of hazardous substances (regulation 7). Regulations 8 and 9 set out requirements relating to technical documentation.

See link to OPSI website here.

The Ozone Depleting Substances (Qualifications) Regulations 2006

The Ozone Depleting Substances (Qualifications) Regulations 2006 were laid before Parliament on 16 June 2006 and are due to come into force on 10 July 2006.

The Regulations give effect to the provisions in Article 16(5) and the first paragraph of Article 17(1) of Regulation (EC) No. 2037/2000 on substances that deplete the ozone layer, as amended.

The Regulations set out minimum qualifications for those working on the recovery, recycling, reclamation or destruction of controlled substances and the prevention and minimising of leakages of controlled substances.

Under regulation 5, it is an offence for a person to carry out relevant work involving controlled substances or work with methyl bromide unless he is competent to do so.

The terms "competent", "relevant work" and the phrase "work with methyl bromide" are all defined in the Regulations. Details of the qualifications, which a person needs in order to carry out certain types of relevant work, are contained in Schedule 1 of the Regulations.

It will also be an offence for an employer to employ a person to carry out relevant work or work with methyl bromide unless that person is competent to do so.

See link to OPSI website here.

England

There have been no items of legislation relating to the environment introduced this month, which are applicable in England only.

England and Wales

There have been no items of legislation relating to the environment introduced this month, which are applicable in England and Wales only.

Scotland

There have been no items of legislation relating to the environment introduced this month, which are applicable in Scotland only.

Northern Ireland

The Waste Management Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006

The Waste Management Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 were made on 26 June 2006 and will come into operation on 31 July 2006.

The Regulations implement (in part), the Waste Framework Directive (Directive 75/442/EEC) and the Landfill Directive (Directive 1999/31/EC).

Article 2 of the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order is amended in order to bring waste from mines and quarries and agricultural waste within the waste management controls established under the Order.

Article 4 of the Order is also amended, making it a requirement that, in relation to household waste, an establishment and undertaking must comply with all the requirements of Article 4(1) of the Order, but that a person who is not an establishment or undertaking must only comply with the requirements of Article 4(1)(c).

The Controlled Waste (Registration of Carriers and Seizure of Vehicles) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999 are also amended in order that the registration requirements of the Order do not apply to those who only transport animal by-products waste, mines or quarries waste or agricultural waste on a professional basis (the Waste Management Licensing Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 will apply instead in these circumstances) and the Controlled Waste Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002 are amended in order that Article 5 of the Order does not apply to waste which comprises animal by-products collected and transported in accordance with the Community Regulation.

The 2006 Regulations also make provision for a number of new exemptions from waste management licensing for activities involving the recovery of animal by-products, the treatment of land with liquid milk and the deposit of plant tissue as well as amending the Landfill Regulations to ensure that the Landfill Directive is transposed in relation to agricultural waste and mines and quarries waste.

Finally, the new Regulations include transitional provisions which apply to the deposit, disposal or recovery of agricultural waste, or mines or quarries waste, for a period of twelve months after the Regulations come into operation.

See link to OPSI website here.

Wales

There have been no items of legislation relating to the environment introduced this month, which are applicable in Wales only.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland

The Financial Assistance for Environmental Purposes Order 2006

The Financial Assistance for Environmental Purposes Order 2006 was made on 29 June 2006 and is due to come into force on 31 July 2006.

Applicable in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with the exception of Article 2(b) which only extends to England and Wales, the Order varies section 153(1) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

This enables the Secretary of State to give financial assistance to, or for the purposes, of the World Summit on Sustainable Development Implementation Fund (the WIF) and to, or for the purposes of, the Envirowise Programme in relation to its activities in England.
The aim of the WIF is to provide funds to accelerate implementation of commitments made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).

The funds provided for this purpose may be applied to initiatives such as sustainable development dialogues, the use and promotion of multi-stakeholder partnerships and initiatives to support WSSD commitments on which Defra leads.

The purpose of the Envirowise Programme is to provide business with free, independent, confidential advice and support on practical ways to improve profits, minimise waste, be more resource efficient and reduce their environmental impact.
See link to OPSI website here.

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