Thursday, 20 Jan 2022

‘It will take time’ UK to delay changes to post-Brexit chemical safety rules until 2025

Brexit: George Eustice admits there are 'teething issues'

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Environment Secretary George Eustice, 50, revealed the UK could delay the changes made to the nation’s chemical safety rules in a letter to the Chemical Industries Association. The letter comes after the UK’s chemical industry demanded the Government rethink its plans to establish a safety database, which has been estimated could cost businesses up to £1billion.

Writing on December 6, the Camborne & Redruth MP explained Brexit Britain “is committed to an effective regulatory system for chemicals which properly protects both human health and our environment”.

Mr Eustice added: “It will take time to fully explore an alternative registration model and, if we want to proceed with it, to develop and pass the necessary legislation.

“We intend to consult separately on extending the deadlines for the full registration data to provide time for this work.

“Subject to that consultation, we are currently minded to extend the October 27, 2023 deadline to October 27, 2025.”

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Companies had been given until just October 28 this year to provide basic regulations for chemical substances with a new UK Reach database.

The UK has delayed implementing several other post-Brexit plans since leaving the European Union in January 2020.

The Government even pushed back plans to introduce full border checks with the Brussels bloc until January 2022 back in March.

According to the Financial Times, the Chemical Industries Association’s chief executive Steve Elliott welcomed Mr Eustice’s comments and said he was pleased the Government had now acknowledged the “huge cost implications” related to UK Reach.

The broadsheet also reported how MakeUK’s Fergus McReynolds shared Mr Elliott’s gratitude by saying a “clear, efficient UK Reach system” remains critical for many manufacturers to be successful.

However, environmental pressure groups seem more critical about the move.

More than 20 organisations in Britain, including the CHEM Trust and Breast Cancer UK, warned the UK Government against watering down post-Brexit environmental regulations back in March.

Breast Cancer chief executive Thalie Martini said in spring: “Reduced requirements for the provision of safety data on chemicals weakens the Health and Safety Executive’s ability to protect public health and risks harmful chemicals entering the UK market.”

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Zoe Avison, from the Green Alliance, said future proposals should require companies to “continue to provide safety information” if they want continued access to the market.

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