Edie Environmental Legislation Summary September 2007

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. This month legislation covering the labelling of organic products, noise pollution at airports and the emissions of large combustion plants come into effect.

EUROPE

Organic Products

The EU has adopted a new Regulation on organic production and labelling of organic products. The Regulation will seek to:

  • ensure that a wide variety of high quality agricultural goods are produced;
  • improve transparency in organic processes for customers;
  • and ensure the health of soil, water, plants and animals.

    Specific rules are also set out for the production of organic plants, livestock and aquaculture that will come into force next year.

    Member States will also be required to appoint one or more authorities to ensure enforcement of the obligations in the Regulation. Additionally, the EU organic logo will be required on pre-packaged goods with over 95% organic ingredients.

    The Regulation is available from the following link.

    UK

    Large Combustion Plants

    The Large Combustion Plants (National Emission Reduction Plan) Regulations 2007 enter into force on the 10th September 2007, implementing EU Law. The Regulations apply to large combustion plants, defined as those with a thermal input which is greater than or equal to 50 MW.

    The Secretary of State is required to consult with the Scottish Ministers, the National Assembly for Wales and the Department of Environment in Northern Ireland before publishing an emissions plan regarding such plants.

    A new duty is also placed on the Secretary of State to provide the Environment Agency with information on an annual basis, including updated details on the plants, their emissions allowances and the contact details of their operators.

    The Regulations require the Environment Agency to create and maintain an electronic register of this information and any additional data which the Secretary of State may request.

    Annual Reports of mass emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and dust produced by large combustion plants must be reviewed and verified by the relevant environmental regulator in the various devolved administrations.

    However, third-party auditors will not be used due to concerns over the potential cost of independent verification.

    The Regulations provide that there is a duty on the operators of such plants to inform the Environment Agency of transfers of emissions allowances within five working days of the transfer. Importantly, any such transfers with be rendered void if the duty to inform the Environment Agency has not been complied with.

    The Regulations are available at the following link.

    Ecodesign

    The Ecodesign for Energy-Using Products Regulations 2007 enter into force on 11th August, implementing EU law on the matter. The Regulations contain a list of products which may not be placed on the market unless in conformity with certain product requirements.

    It is for the manufacturer of the product to ensure that is conforms to the product requirements, although authorised representatives and importers are under similar obligations to the manufacturer, and all are required to keep documentation in respect of listed products.

    The Regulations provide for notified bodies to assess, in accordance with the assessment procedure for a certain product, whether or not a product conforms to the product requirements. There is procedure for appeals against a non-conformity notice issued by a notified body.

    The Regulations will be enforced by the local weights and measures authorities in England, Wales and Scotland, but will be enforced by the BERR in Northern Ireland. There are civil proceedings open to enforcement authorities pursuant to their duties.

    The Regulations make it an offence to affix markings to a product that could cause a consumer to believe that they conform to the product requirements.

    The Regulations are available at the following link.

    ENGLAND

    Environmental Noise

    The Environmental Noise (Identification of Noise Dests) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2007 enter into force on 20th September 2007, amending the list of major airports for the purposes of the Environmental Noise (England) Regulations 2006.

    The amendment was to effect the removal of Gloucestershire, London Biggin Hill and Shoreham airports from the list.

    All civil airports with more than 50,000 take-offs or landings in any year were to be identified as major airports, apart from those used only for training purposes in light aircraft.

    The identified major airports will be used to formulate strategic noise maps, which will then be used to inform action plans in respect of environmental noise.

    The Regulations can be accessed at the following link.


    NORTHERN IRELAND

    Habitats

    The Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2007 enter into force on 21st August, making various amendments to the 1995 Regulations of the same name.

    A definition of 'European offshore marine site' is inserted into the 1995 Regulations to take account of the Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.)

    Regulations 2007, and where appropriate references are made to this in order that possible impacts on such sites as a result of plans or projects in Northern Ireland are taken into consideration.

    New duties are imposed on the Department of the Environment, or the Secretary of State in the marine area, to arrange for the surveillance of the conservation status of habitats and certain species, and also to take measures to ensure the favourable conservation status of certain species.

    There are further duties to arrange to monitor incidental capture and killing of protected species, and to take steps towards tailoring conservation action to take account of the results of such monitoring.

    A new offence is created of injuring a European protected species, and there are alterations to the existing offence of deliberately disturbing such animals.

    In addition, the defences relating to the possession or trade of certain animals have been altered such that it is a defence to demonstrate that the animal was lawfully taken prior to the implementation date of the Habitats Directive in the relevant Member State, or was taken from outside the EU.

    A new defence is also added in relation to sea fishing. Similar alterations were also made to provisions and defences relating to the taking, possession or trade of certain protected plant species.

    The 1995 Regulations also contain provisions on mercy killing or tending of injured protected species, and the conditions in relation to this are tightened. All other defences in regulation 35 of the 1995 Regulations have been repealed.

    A new offence is created of using indiscriminate means to capture or kill that might cause the local disappearance of or serious disturbance to a population of certain protected species.

    The Regulations are also amended to require the Secretary of State to agree to a plan or project to be carried out in the overriding public interest despite a negative assessment of the implications for a European offshore marine site.

    In respect of regional development strategies and development plans, the Regulations require the authority preparing such plans to consider the potential effect on a designated site - both individually and in accumulation with other plans or projects.

    Where any significant effect not directly connected with the management of the site is identified, an appropriate assessment must be made of the implications for the site in terms of its conservation objectives.

    Provision is made for consultation with the Department of the Environment in this regard, and in some cases also with the public. Where a plan is given effect despite a negative assessment, compensatory measures must be considered and, where appropriate, taken to ensure that the coherence of Natura 2000 is maintained.

    The Regulations are available at the following link.

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