Edie environmental legislation summary (June 2005)

In this month's Semple Fraser and Edie News round-up of new policies and recent changes to legislation that will impact the environmental sector in the UK, Europe and internationally: First COP of POPs; Gothenburg protocol; WEEE; Health and Safety; water services; and packaging obligations.

INTERNATIONAL LEGISLATION

Outcome of first CoP of the UN Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
By way of update on last month's legislative round-up on this matter, the finer details of the first CoP of the UN Stockholm Convention which took place between 2 and 6 May 2005 are now available.

The parties' most noteworthy decision was the establishment of a new POPs Review Committee which will be responsible for evaluating further chemicals that could be added to the treaty's original list of 12.

The panel will have its first meeting later in the year and its recommendations will be passed to future annual meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention.

The Committee kicks off its work with four new chemicals proposed to be added to the existing list at the Conference - the flame retardant pentabromodiphenyl ether (proposed by Norway), a group of chemicals known as hexachlorocyclohexanes which includes the pesticide lindane (proposed by Mexico) and the pesticide chlordecone and the flame retardant hexabromobiphenyl (both proposed by the EU).

The meeting also agreed on how to assess the Convention's progress in reducing the levels of POPs in the environment by establishing a system for requesting and registering temporary exemptions to the phase-out of specific chemicals.

One of the chemicals already targeted by the Convention is DDT, but the meeting acknowledged that around 25 countries may have to continue spraying controlled amounts of DDT in houses to fight against malaria. The progress being made on finding safe, affordable and effective alternatives to DDT will be re-examined in three years' time.

Link to UN website: UN Website

Gothenburg Protocol now in force

The Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone came into force on 17 May 2005.

It was first adopted in Gothenburg in1999 under the guidance of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and within the existing structure of the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution.

Its precise goals are to reduce emissions of sulphur, nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ammonia which are potentially harmful to human health, the environment and plant life because of the acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone which results from long-range transboundary air pollution.

The first meeting of the parties to the Protocol will happen in December 2005.

The Protocol fixes emission ceilings to be achieved by 2010 for these pollutants as well as setting strict limits for particular emission sources such as combustion plants, vehicle emissions, paints and solvents, and even ammonia emissions in farming.

It has been estimated that once the Protocol has come into force, sulphur emissions in Europe in 2010 should drop by 63%, nitrogen oxide emissions by 41%, VOC emissions by 40% and ammonia emissions by 17% in comparison to the emission levels documented for 1990.

In addition to ratifying the Gothenburg Protocol in 2003 (Decision 2003/507/EC), the EU also adopted a Directive (Directive 2001/81/EC) in 2001 to implement national emission ceilings for these same pollutants, also by 2010 at the latest.

See link to UNECE website: UNECE

See Press Release: Press Release

EUROPEAN LEGISLATION

EU Commission Decision of 3 May 2005 laying down rules for monitoring compliance of Member States and establishing data formats for the purposes of Directive 2002/96/EC on waste electrical and electronic equipment ("the WEEE Directive").

Member States must report the information required in Article 12(1) of the WEEE Directive using the data formats set out in Table 1 of the Annex to this Decision.

Member States must also demonstrate compliance with the recovery, reuse and recycling rates set out in Article 7(2) of the WEEE Directive by completing Table 2 set out in the Annex to this Decision.

In addition, where waste electrical and electronic equipment is exported for treatment in a third country, or is sent for treatment in another Member State in accordance with Article 6(5) of the WEEE Directive, only the Member State which has collected and exported that waste equipment may count it towards the targets set out in Article 7(2) of said Directive.

Link to Decision: WEEE Decision

UK LEGISLATION

English & Welsh

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (Application to Environmentally Hazardous Substances) (Amendment) Regulations 2005

These Regulations, which extend to the whole of the UK except Northern Ireland and which were made on 9 May 2005 coming into force on 3 June 2005, extend the reference to dangerous substances in section 1(1)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 ("the 1974 Act") to include environmentally hazardous substances.

These Regulations also amend regulation 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (Application to Environmentally Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2002 to add references to EU Directives 2004/89/EC, 2004/110/EC and 2004/111/EC so that Regulations can be made under section 15 of the 1974 Act to implement these Directives.

See link: OPSI

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (Commencement No. 7) (Wales) Order 2005

This Order, extending to Wales only and made on 10 May 2005, brings into force certain provisions of Part II of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 ("the Act") in relation to Wales on 31 May 2005, 15 July 2005 and 21 November 2005.

The provisions commenced by this Order improve and strengthen the management of the estimated 33,000 kilometres of public rights of way in Wales by (a) enabling local highway authorities to consolidate their definitive maps where they are fragmented as a result of previous local government reorganisations and by making minor amendments to the procedures applicable to public path and modification orders generally.

These provisions come into force on 31 May 2005 (article 2); (b) enabling local highway authorities to close or divert footpaths, bridleways and, in due course, restricted byways, for the purpose of protecting schoolchildren and staff by assisting authorities to provide improved security at schools where public paths cross land occupied for the purposes of a school.

These provisions come into force on 15 July 2005 (article 3); and (c) requiring local highway authorities to compile and maintain three new registers relating to public path and modification orders and by enabling the National Assembly for Wales ("the National Assembly") to prescribe the content of those registers. These provisions come into force on 21 November 2005 (article 4).

See link: OPSI

Scottish

The Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003 (Commencement No. 2) Order 2005

This Order, extending to Scotland only and which does not come into force until 1st June 2005, brings into force further provisions of Part 1 of the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003 which provides as follows:-

  • section 8 confers duties relating to the monitoring of the status of the water environment in each river basin district and the preparation of monitoring programmes on the Scottish Environment Protection Agency ("SEPA");
  • section 9 contains requirements relating to the setting of environmental objectives and programme of measures in the river basin management plan;
  • section 10 requires SEPA to prepare and submit to the Scottish Ministers a river basin management plan for each river basin district, and sets out the matters which must be included in, and accompany, the plan;
  • section 11 contains the publicity and consultation requirements relating to the river basin management plan;
  • section 15 concerns the preparation of sub basin plans; and
  • section 17 makes provision for the establishment of River Basin District Advisory Groups.

    See link: HMSO

    The Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003 (Commencement No. 3) Order 2005

    This Order, made on 12 May and coming into force on 20 May 2005, brings into force further provisions of the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003. Section 25 gives the Scottish Ministers the power by regulations to modify provisions in Part I of said Act for the purposes of giving effect to European Community obligations, or exercising any related right including any derogation or right to make more onerous provision in respect of such obligations.

    Schedule 1 sets out the matters to be included in a river basin management plan, and those matters to be included in revised plans. Schedule 2 lists the particular purposes for which regulations may be made under section 20 (regulation of controlled activities).

    See link: OPSI

    The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Amendment (Scotland) Regulations 2005

    These Regulations, which were made on 18 May and came into force on 19 May 2005 and which apply to Scotland only, amend the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997.

    Regulation 2 amends the 1997 Regulations to allow reprocessors and exporters to apply for, and SEPA to grant, accreditation at any time throughout the year.

    Paragraph (2) amends regulation 21B of the 1997 Regulations. Sub paragraph (a) removes the requirement for a person to have applied for accreditation as a reprocessor or exporter by 30th September in the year preceding the year in which that person is applying to be accredited. Sub paragraph (b) removes the requirement for SEPA to have notified the applicant of its decision by 30th November, although the requirement to notify in writing remains. Sub paragraph (c) provides that where accreditation is granted in the preceding year to which the application relates, it takes effect from 1st January and in all other cases, from the date of the decision.

    Accreditations subsist until 31st December of the year to which the accreditation relates. Paragraph (3) makes consequential amendments to Schedule 2A of the 1997 Regulations.

    See link to HMSO website: OPSI The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (Application to Environmentally Hazardous Substances) (Amendment) Regulations 2005

    These Regulations apply to the whole of the UK except Northern Ireland - see details of these Regulations above under the section on English & Welsh legislation.

    Northern Irish

    The Pollution Prevention and Control (Amendment) and Connected Provisions Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2005

    These Regulations, made in May but coming into force on 5 June 2005, amend the Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 ("the PPC Regulations") and the Industrial Pollution Control (Northern Ireland) Order 1997.

    Regulation 2(1)(a) removes the definitions of "organic compound" and "volatile organic compound" or "VOC" from the general interpretation section in regulation 2(2) of the PPC Regulations, and regulation 2(4)(l) inserts these definitions into Section 7 of Schedule 1 (SED Activities) to those Regulations.

    Regulation 2(1)(b) deletes the definition of "prescribed" in regulation 2 of the PPC Regulations.

    Regulation 2(2) amends the criteria for determining a fit and proper person under regulation 4 of the PPC Regulations. Regulation 2(3) deletes paragraph 7 of regulation 27 of the PPC Regulations.

    Regulation 2(4) amends Part 1 of Schedule 1 (Activities) to the PPC Regulations. In particular:

  • Regulation 2(4)(c) transfers ferrous metals activities involving the operation of electro-slag furnaces from Part A to Part C of Section 2.1 (Ferrous Metals);
  • Regulations 2(4)(d) to (f) insert further technical amendments to the activities specified in Sections 4.1 (Organic Chemicals), 4.2 (Inorganic Chemicals) and 4.7 (Manufacturing Activities Involving Carbon Disulphide or Ammonia);
  • Regulation 2(4)(g) amends Section 5.1 (Incineration and Co-Incineration of Waste);
  • Regulations 2(4)(h) and (i) extend the exclusions in Part A of Section 5.3 (Disposal of Waste Other Than by Incineration or Landfill) and Section 5.4 (Recovery of Waste) to certain activities involving the treatment of waste soil and contaminated material.

    Regulation 2(5) amends Part 2 of Schedule 1 (Interpretation of Part 1) to the PPC Regulations to exclude certain activities carried out in installations or mobile plant used solely for research and development and testing of new products and processes.

    Regulation 2(6) inserts a new provision into Part 3 of Schedule 1 (Interpretation of "Part A Installation" etc.) to the PPC Regulations.

    Regulation 2(7) deals with amendments to the transitional arrangements in Schedule 3 (Prescribed Date and Transitional Arrangements) to the PPC Regulations and makes further provision with respect to the deemed application process in those Regulations.

    Regulation 2(8) makes minor amendments to Schedule 4 (Grant of Permits) to the PPC Regulations.

    Regulation 2(9) amends Schedule 7 (Variation of Conditions) to the PPC Regulations.

    Regulation 2(10) makes amendments to the information to be contained in a register maintained under regulation 30 of the PPC Regulations.

    Regulation 3 provides that an authorisation granted under the Industrial Pollution Control (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 will cease to have effect on the granting of a permit under the PPC Regulations to the extent to which it covers the same authorised process. Regulation 4 deals with transitional provisions.

    See link: OPSI


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