UK’s Environmental Audit Committee launches inquiry into the future of REACH following the EU Referendum and DEFRA consults on the proposed ban for microbeads

On Brexit the Government has explained it intends to covert EU law into British Law through the “Great Repeal Bill”. However, it is acknowledged that up to a third of EU environmental law cannot be simply copied and pasted. REACH, the EU Chemicals Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals is one such piece of legislation.

The Environmental Audit Committee (“EAC”), a House of Commons Select Committee, launched a new inquiry on 21 December 2016 on the future of Chemicals Regulation after the EU Referendum. It will focus on the future of REACH in the UK, and how post-Brexit chemicals regulation may impact on environmental protection, public safety and the UK’s chemical industry. The future application of REACH has important implications for future trade within the EU. Being a Single Market regulation it harmonises conditions under which chemicals and articles can be supplied.

The inquiry will consider:

  1. Transposition – challenges to using the Great Repeal Bill to put REACH into UK law; how Brexit negotiations will impact the UK’s ability to transpose REACH; and the role the devolved administrations should play
  2. Administrative, policy and regulatory implications – how to transfer administration and enforcement from the European Chemicals Agency (“ECHA”) to domestic bodies; the likely implications for industry in terms of regulatory, environmental and safety standards; and whether the UK Government has the expertise and resources to regulate REACH in the UK
  3. Future of the chemical industry – scope for divergent UK chemicals regulation on Brexit; principles that a UK regime should follow; the likely practical implications of a UK-only regime on the environment, public safety and UK industry, plus key features of a UK regime to ensure these concerns are not compromised

Submissions are requested by 20 January 2017 and should be made here http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environmental-audit-committee/inquiries/parliament-2015/inquiry2/commons-written-submission-form/. Late submissions will be accepted by may be too late to inform the first oral evidence hearing.

Whilst the UK remains part of the EU REACH and other EU legislation remains effective in the UK, this includes the legal obligation to register substances under REACH by the May 2018 deadline.

The UK Government has also launched a public consultation seeking views on the proposed ban on the sale and manufacture of cosmetics containing microbeads and to obtain evidence on other sources of microplastics. Interestingly this is UK only legislation to protect the marine environment which was announced by a post Brexit UK Government. The consultation is open until 28 February 2017. More information here: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/marine/microbead-ban-proposals/