frESH Law Horizons: Key Developments in UK and
EU Environment, Safety and Health Law and Procedure
Civil engineering and heating firms fined total of £2 million following conviction. The Health
and Safety Executive (HSE) has reported on Sheffield Crown Court fines following the death of a worker
who suffered fatal crush injuries. The companies were fined £1 million each after being found guilty of
breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The case highlights the continuing
trend of fines over the £1 million mark for health and safety offences becoming commonplace.
Surveyor fined following failure to detect asbestos. The HSE has also reported that EAS Asbestos
Limited (a specialist asbestos company) were commissioned to conduct refurbishment and demolition
surveys by a construction company who were contracted to demolish garages for Hyndburn Homes.
EAS Asbestos stated in their surveys that asbestos was only present in the cement roof sheets, there
were no areas that could not be accessed, and that there was no asbestos insulation board present
in the garages. The HSE investigation found that the survey was incorrect and misleading. This case
demonstrates that liability for asbestos-related safety issues extends beyond the construction company.
Consultation on Proposal to Allow Pet Food Production in Food Establishments. The Food
Standards Agency (FSA) has launched a consultation, seeking views on proposals to allow, under certain
criteria to ensure strict separation, the commercial production of pet food from animal by-products
(ABPs) in businesses also producing food for human consumption. The FSA view is that such production
is permitted, given that Regulation (EC) No. 142/2011, containing implementing measures for Regulation
(EC) No 1069/2009 on ABPs prescribes conditions of strict separation designed for processing plants
located on the same site as slaughterhouses, or other establishments approved or registered under EU
regulations governing hygiene. The consultation closes on 30 May.
Fine reduced by Court of Appeal from £475,000 to £200,000 to reflect agreement between
parties. In R. (on the application of Health and Safety Executive) v ATE Truck & Trailer Sales Ltd 
EWCA Crim 752 the Court of Appeal held that the sentencing judge had had no sufficient justification
for departing from the parties’ agreement following a company’s guilty plea to an offence under the
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. This is one of a number of reported
appeals against fine levels over recent months. It seems such appeals are becoming more common
against a background of higher fines resulting from the application of sentencing guidelines.
Opera House liable to viola player in orchestra after he suffered acoustic shock due to noise
levels during a rehearsal. In Goldscheider v Royal Opera House Covent Garden Foundation, the court
found that the Opera House had breached duties under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.
It had failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment, failed to do everything reasonably practicable
to eliminate the risk of noise exposure, failed to designate its orchestra pit as a mandatory hearing
protection zone, and failed to train orchestra members about the risks. The court considered causation
and found a clear link between the breaches of duty and the claimant’s damaged hearing. On the issue
of causation, there was a clear causal connection link between the breaches of duty and the claimant’s
damaged hearing and the acoustic shock suffered by him was consistent with the evidence and
attributable to those breaches of duty.
Company and two of its managers prosecuted for using forged documents to obtain asbestos
licence from the HSE. The company was employed to remove asbestos from a major city centre
redevelopment, but it later transpired it had used faked medical and training certificates. The case was
reported by local press, as well as by the HSE.
Breach of body piercing licence as to age held to be strict liability offence. The High court has
decided (London Borough of Hounslow v Aslim ) that whether or not the defendant took reasonable
steps to establish the age of a customer was irrelevant when considering whether or not he was guilty
and in breach of a licence he held to provide body piercing services (contrary to section 14(2) of the
London Local Authorities Act 1991).
Logistics company fined £373,000 following conviction for health and safety breach. The
HSE has reported that, on 29 March 2018, the company pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the
Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £373,000 at Southend Magistrates’ Court. The
case involved an agency worker unchaining a vehicle ramp from a delivery lorry. The HSE investigation
found that the company had failed to fully control the risks. With the HSE commenting that the company
failed to appropriately brief visiting drivers, the case is a reminder that non-permanent workers must be
considered when assessing and controlling risks.
New Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) Codes of Practice in force from 16 April 2018. As a
result of amendments to POCA under the Criminal Finances Act 2017, the Home Office has published two
new codes of practice: the revised Code of Practice for the Exercise of Search Powers to Recover Cash;
and the new Code of Practice for Recovery of Listed Assets.
£40,000 fine after two employees injured in fire at adhesive manufacturer. The fire stopped
production at the site for five months. The HSE report notes that enforcement action had been taken prior
to the incident, amid concerns with poor conditions in the handling, storage and management of risks
from flammable liquids.
The new European acrylamide legislation came into effect on 11 April 2018. The rules under the
regulation require food manufacturers to identify sources of acrylamide and put in place steps to manage
it within their food safety management systems. Acrylamide is a carcinogen and typically forms when
foods such as potatoes, other root vegetables and bread are fried, roasted or baked at high temperatures.
Trade press reports have raised concerns at the EU failure to provide guidance to date. However, the FSA
does make information available online.
Derby Crown Court fines Severn Trent Water £350,000 after hazardous chemical leak from
treatment works. Trade press reports indicate that it was also ordered to pay almost £70,000 to the
Environment Agency in costs. An estimated 30,000 dead fish and 5 kilometres of damaged ecology in the
River Amber led to proceedings.
EU Regulation on criteria for endocrine disruptors under pesticides regime published and
coming into force on 10 May 2018. It sets criteria under the Plant Protection Products Regulation (EC)
1107/2009 (which prohibits pesticides that contain substances of very high concern, including endocrine
disruptors being placed on the market). The development of the criteria has faced controversy. The
European Parliament rejected an earlier version of the draft Regulation, in October 2017.
European Parliament adopts four proposals of circular economy package. The proposals
adopted relate to amendments on European Directives on end-of life vehicles, batteries and accumulators
and waste batteries and accumulators and waste electrical and electronic equipment; packaging and
packaging waste; waste; and landfill of waste.
New measures to ensure lower emission lorries will pay less to use UK roads. As part of
plans to improve air quality across the UK, the government has announced new measures to change the
rates paid by hauliers of “less polluting lorries”. From February 2019, lorries meeting the latest Euro VI
emissions standards will be eligible for a 10% reduction in the cost of the heavy goods vehicle (HGV)
levy, and the lorries that fail to meet the standards will be expected to pay 20% more. Anyone running
HGVs should be aware of these measures and consider them when changing vehicles/adding to the fleet.
VW to face spotlight as group action gets green light. A vast group action case pitting more than
50,000 UK car owners against Volkswagen (VW) will likely go to trial early next year following a complex
three-day hearing last week. Last week, consumer rights firms were at the High Court where they
successfully applied for a group litigation order (GLO) allowing affected car owners to have their claims
managed together rather than every car owner having to sue VW individually. This is one of very few
mass GLOs to be granted in the UK courts and it will be interesting to see how this moves forward.
Commonwealth bins single use plastic. Countries across the Commonwealth have united to
eliminate avoidable single use plastic in an “ambitious” bid to clean up the world’s oceans. It has been
announced that New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Ghana have joined the UK and Vanuatu-led Commonwealth
Clean Oceans Alliance (CCOA) – an agreement between member states to join forces in the fight against
plastic pollution. The Prime Minister has also announced a £61.4 million package of funding to boost
global research and help countries across the Commonwealth stop plastic waste from entering the
oceans in the first place.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced a deposit
return scheme for single-use drinks containers. Its aim is to address the problem of landfill and
littering of these containers. The proposed scheme will apply to metal, glass and plastic containers.
Defra will consult on details of the scheme later in 2018, as part of a wider consultation on packaging
waste and improving recycling. The Prime Minister has also announced that there will be a consultation
later this year on the potential to ban plastic straws and cotton buds in England.
Open cast coal mine planning refused due to climate change impact. Plans to extract coal from
Druridge Bay in Northumberland have been refused by the government because of environmental, and
specifically climate change, impacts. The applicant, Bank Mining, is understood to be reviewing the
precise reasons for the Secretary of State’s decision before deciding on the most appropriate next steps
The Environment Agency has issued new forms and guidance for the waste, water and energy
sectors in England. The new forms follow the strategic review of charges and the coming into effect
of the new charging scheme on 1 April. If you are involved with permit or similar applications to the
Environment Agency, you will need to be aware of the new forms, guidance and charges.
Defra has announced that the Environment Agency “definition of waste panel” will reopen in
June 2018. After the announcement, it published a checklist for those who wish to use the service. This
is expected to be a welcome development and provide some much-needed certainty to questions around
the definition of waste for certain materials.
EU will seek “non-regression” clause to tie UK to environmental standards. The EU’s chief
negotiator, Michel Barnier, has warned that Brussels will not rely on Michael Gove’s pledges over the
environment but instead insist on a “non-regression” clause in any future deal after Brexit to tie the
UK to the bloc’s high standards. Barnier said he welcomed Defra’s 25-year plan published in January by
Gove, under which the UK vowed to be a “global champion” of greener policies after 29 March 2019.
Defra has confirmed support for EU circular economy package in upcoming EU vote. The
government says it supports the package because it wants the UK to be a world leader in resource
efficiency and, in addition to backing this package, it will publish its own Resources and Waste Strategy
in 2018, consistent with the EU package and in some respects going beyond it.
Environmental coalition warns time is running out for “green Brexit”. Greener UK, a coalition
of 13 environmental organisations, is tracking Brexit to make sure that environmental protections are
not weakened or lost. It has published a call to action, urging the government to fulfil its “green Brexit”
promises by bringing forward ambitious new legislation.
Industry reacts to ECHA proposal to list lead as a REACH substance of very high concern
(SVHC). The proposal to place lead on the Candidate List was made by Sweden and published for
consultation on 8 March by the European Chemicals Agency. If lead is classed as a SVHC and added
to the Candidate List, it would lead to consideration of further risk management options, such as
authorisation. The Lead Reach Consortium, which represents REACH registrants of lead, said that it
agrees with the objective to reduce risks associated with lead exposure but questions the proportionality
and regulatory effectiveness of REACH authorisation. If you are involved in the lead supply chain then you
can get involved in the consultation through the ECHA website.
Nations meeting at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) have adopted an initial
strategy on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships. It sets out a vision to reduce
greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from international shipping and phase them out, as soon as possible
in this century. The initial strategy envisages, for the first time, a reduction in total GHG emissions
from international shipping by at least 50% by 2050, compared to 2008. The initial strategy represents
a framework for member states, setting out the future vision for international shipping, the levels of
ambition to reduce GHG emissions and guiding principles. Those involved in shipping will need to keep
track of the development of this strategy.
The Green Finance Taskforce published its first report on how the government can achieve
the investment the UK needs to meet its carbon budget and related environmental goals. The
recommendations are wide-ranging and include measures to strengthen the market for green mortgage
products, clarification of environmental, social and governance aspects, a sovereign green bond and
strengthening non-financial narrative reporting on climate change matters. This is likely to be of particular
interest to those involved in financial services.
The European Commission has published new technical guidance on the classification of
hazardous waste. The guidance relates to the waste framework directive and the list of wastes and
provides guidance in particular on identifying hazardous properties, assessing waste for a hazardous
property and determining if a waste is hazardous or not. The correct classification of waste has important
consequences for how it can be managed, recycled, recovered or disposed of.
The European Parliament has approved the revised Energy Performance of Buildings
Directive (EPDB). The Directive sets out a route to a low and zero-emissions EU building stock by
2050, underpinned by national roadmaps to decarbonise buildings. It also encourages the use of smart
technologies to ensure buildings operate efficiently. This is the first to be finalised of eight pieces of
proposed legislation in the “Clean Energy for All Europeans” package. The updated EPDB now needs to
be agreed by the Council of Ministers.
The government will introduce civil sanction powers for breaches of offshore oil and gas
environmental regulations. It confirmed this in response to the recent consultation. Previously the
only sanctions were criminal prosecution. Draft Offshore Environmental Civil Sanctions Regulations 2018
will give the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning powers to impose civil
penalties, and will come into force on 1 October 2018. Anyone dealing with offshore operations should
note this development.
Government consults on changes to exclusions and exemptions for flood risk activities.
The proposed amendments are to clarify definitions and cut the conditions that apply to exemptions
and exclusions for low risk activities involving work in or around main rivers and sea defences. The
consultation closes on 20 June 2018.
T +44 161 830 5257
David J. Gordon
T +44 121 222 3204
Nicola A. Smith
T +44 121 222 3230
T +44 121 222 3504