Edie Environmental Legislation Summary, November 06

This month sees changes to pollution rules across the UK and the EU, with asbestos regulations tightening up in Britain as new additions are made to the list of information, training and protection companies are required to provide asbestos workers with.

In Europe, the deadly pollution incident in the Ivory Coast has influenced lawmakers in their decision to make obtaining prior consent obligatory for anyone importing toxic chemicals into the EU.

New Pollution Prevention and Control regulations bring some changes to rules on car refuelling, which will now require a permit under PPC, and for coin-operated dry cleaning machines, some of which will now be exempt.

Meanwhile, Wales is to get 'strategic noise maps' following the Environmental Noise Regulations coming into force last month.

UK Wide Legislation

Asbestos

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 will enter into force on 13th November, partially codifying asbestos legislation. In the new Regulations, the licensing requirements of the Asbestos (Licensing) Regulations 1983 are re-enacted at regulation 8, with licenses made subject to a maximum duration of 3 years.

The Asbestos (Prohibitions) Regulations 1992 are also re-enacted, with the derogations that have expired omitted.

Part 2 of the new Regulations replaces the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002. Regulation 4 of the 2002 Regulations, containing the main requirements to manage asbestos and to carry out asbestos surveys, remains unchanged.

The duties contained in the Regulations are applied to all work with asbestos, with exceptions in respect of licensing, notification, accident and emergency arrangements, asbestos areas and health surveillance in respect of sporadic and low intensity exposure. The Regulations are disapplied in respect of ships other than naval ships. The list of topics on which information, instruction and training must be given to employees is extended, and the new Regulations provide for the provision of respiratory protective equipment so far as reasonably practicable to any employee exposed to asbestos. The new Regulations provide that the control limit must not be exceeded and makes provision for the actions to be taken in the event that this occurs. The control limit relates to the concentration of asbestos in the atmosphere when measured in accordance with the legislation.

The Regulations can be found at the following link

English and Welsh Legislation

PPC Regulations

The Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2006 entered into force on 17th October.

Part B of section 1.2 (Gasification, Liquefaction and Refining Activities) of Schedule 1 to the PPC Regulations is amended include motor vehicle refuelling activities to the list of activities requiring a permit under the PPC Regulations. This is to meet a UK obligation that arises from the Geneva Protocol to the 1979 VOCs Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, which entered force on 29 September 1997.

Section 5.1 (Incineration and Co-incineration of Waste) of Schedule 1 to the PPC Regulations is amended such that it is clarified that incineration incidentally in the course of burning landfill gas is not subject to permission under the PPC Regulations. Schedule 3 (Prescribed Date and Transitional Arrangements) to the PPC Regulations is amended to exempt certain operators of coin operated dry cleaning machines who choose not to apply for a permit before 31st October 2006 from the requirement to have a permit under the Solvent Emissions Directive 1999/13/EC under the understanding that operators will cease carrying out operations that fall within the scope of that Directive at the installation by 31st October 2007.

The Regulations can be found at the following link

Welsh Legislation

Environmental Noise

The Environmental Noise (Wales) Regulations 2006 entered into force on 4th October, implementing Directive 2002/49/EC on the assessment and management of environmental noise.

The Regulations provide for Strategic Noise Maps to be made in two rounds, one in 2007 and one in 2012, and for new ones to be made every five years thereafter. The National Assembly for Wales is charged with identifying the noise sources for which Strategic Noise Maps are to be made. Strategic Noise Maps are to be made in relation to agglomerations, major roads, major railways and major airports. They are to be reviewed and revised by the Assembly from time to time and whenever a major development occurs. Airport operators are required to make Strategic Noise Maps for airports not designated as major airports and to submit them for adoption by the Assembly. They too must review and revise the Maps from time to time and whenever a major development occurs. The Assembly is also required to identify the quiet areas in agglomerations.

The Regulations also provide for Action Plans to be drawn up in two rounds following the drawing up of the Strategic Noise Maps, one round being in 2008 and the other in 2013. The Assembly is to publish guidance on how the priorities in the Action Plans should be identified. The Assembly is required to draw up Action Plans for places near major roads and railways and for agglomerations. These must be reviewed and revised from time to time and whenever a major development occurs. Airport operators are required to draw up Action Plans for major airports and submit them to the Assembly for adoption. They must also review and revise the Action Plans from time to time and whenever a major development occurs.

The Regulations are available at the following link.

EU Legislation

Chemicals Trade

The EU has adopted Council Decision 2006/730/EC in implementation of the UN Rotterdam Convention on prior informed consent before imports and exports of hazardous chemicals. The law entered force on 28th October. It is not the first time the EU has implemented the Convention, but the law passed in 2003 to this effect was annulled by the European Court of Justice due to a dispute over its legal basis. The new implementation draws on not only the environmental provisions of the EU treaty but also on those relating to trade.

The re-adoption of the law has been influenced by the situation in the Ivory Coast, where numerous people died after a Dutch chartered ship dumped toxic waste in the lagoon city of Abidjan.

The Council Decision is available at the following link.

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