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EEF's Health, Safety and Environment Blog

Beware what the New Year brings

by kevin Considine, Senior Policy Adviser, Climate & Environment 17. December 2010 11:46

The New Year will see the Environment Agency flex its new found muscle as it starts to use the six new civil sanction powers that were introduced under the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008.

Five of the new powers: Fixed Monetary Penalties; Variable Monetary Penalties; Compliance Notices; Restoration Notices; and Stop Notices, do more or less what their title suggests.  However, the sixth power, an Enforcement Undertaking (EU) is a new offering and may be used widely by the Agency. 

An EU allows an offender to agree with the regulator a course of corrective action rather than face prosecution.  The Agency has developed an ‘undertaking form’ and guidance on its website to make it easy for offenders to offer an EU.

The Agency’s decision to pursue these new powers was in due to its frustration at having no real middle ground between offering advice/cautions and formal prosecution. It also didn’t help that its success at prosecution was pretty poor.

The Agency has argued that these new powers will give it greater scope to influence and affect change within an organisation.  During the consultation process, in which EEF was actively engaged with government and the regulator, the Agency was keen to stress that these powers would not be issued flippantly like parking tickets.  The first port of call for any inspector would be to offer information and advice where a non compliance has been observed, but could resort to civil sanctioning powers where there is repeated non-compliance.

These new powers mark the start of a new and hopefully increasingly positive relationship between the regulator and regulated industry.  However, to ensure the transition of civil sanctions from policy development to deployment are fairly and equitably applied EEF wants to hear from members where these powers have been exercised and for what reasons.  We want to ensure that the Agency honours its consultation commitment that the powers will not be the regulators default position and that they will be applied consistently and proportionately.   

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Energy reforms are mixed bag - EEF

by Gareth Stace, Head of Climate & Environment Policy 16. December 2010 14:35

Today both DECC & HM Treasury published energy market reform, CCL and Carbon Price proposals in two separate consultation documents. As you can see below, our media release sees these proposals as a mixed bag. Whilst the energy market reforms should now provide new nuclear and low carbon investors with a stronger and predictable carbon price, the “Carbon Price Floor” Consultation from Treasury seems to add yet another layer of costs onto UK manufactures. We therefore may see a ready UK market that overseas competitors can take full advantage from:

Energy reforms are mixed bag - EEF

Electricity market reforms to provide certainty and signal to investors but carbon price mechanism to increase costs and threaten industrial competitiveness

EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation has given a mixed response to today’s package of energy reforms.

Whilst it believes the electricity market reforms will provide a more predictable and cost effective approach to supporting low carbon energy, proposals for the carbon price support mechanism will increase the costs to manufacturers and threaten the ability of companies to invest for growth.

Commenting, EEF Director of Policy, Steve Radley, said:

“Today’s reforms are likely to prove counter-productive. On the one hand government has provided a more predictable and cost effective approach to energy policy which should benefit both investors and consumers.

“It has also fired the starting gun for a policy that will prove the right market signal for investment in low carbon power generation to provide long term energy security.

“However, these reforms come at a significant price for UK manufacturers, including those who want to invest in low carbon technologies. The government’s own impact assessment shows the carbon price reforms will damage competitiveness for over a decade but it offers no solutions that will mitigate this.

“Manufacturers will have to bear the costs and complexities of three different types of carbon and energy taxation (1). Government must now address how it plans to address the loss in competitiveness by working with industry to reform other aspects of climate policy such as the Carbon Reduction Commitment and Climate Change Levy.”

 

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1.The three types of carbon and energy taxation are:

·         Climate Change Levy

·         Carbon Reduction Commitment

·         Carbon Support Price Mechanism (as proposed)

2. EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation is the representative body for UK manufacturing. The EEF has a growing membership of almost 6,000 companies of all sizes, employing some 900,000 people from every sector of engineering, manufacturing, engineering construction and technology-based industries.

EU update: Electromagnetic Fields

by Steve Pointer, Head of Health and Safety Policy 10. December 2010 16:53

The long saga of EU legislation on Electromagnetic Fields continues.  Wtih a little over 12 months until the postponement of implementation for the orginal faulty directive expires, things - in European law terms - are starting to get tight. 

it's now pretty clear that we are going to end up with a directive in some form or another and, depending on the limit values that are set and action required, it could affect manufacturers carrying out processes such as arc and resistance welding, electroplating, radiofrequency welding and induction heating.

After Commissioner Andor told the parliament that the they would have a formal proposal by Christmas, a sense of real urgency crept in.  Over the past few weeks we have been working with partners to ensure that the Commission avoids rushing through an incomplete directive.  Though well-intentioned it would require business organisations, governments and unions to sign-up to a proposal with key parts missing and that could result in another faulty directive that imposes unreasonable burdens on business for processes that pose no genuine risk to health.

I'm glad to say that our combined work was successful and the Commission has promised to produce a complete directive for the EMF working party (made up of representatives of governments, employers and employees) to consider early in the new year.  Whilst it is extremely unlikely that we will get rid of a directive on EMF altogether, there is still a lot to play for, with the potential to greatly limit the impact on manufacturing industry.  We will continue to keep you posted.

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Where have all the chemicals gone?

by kevin Considine, Senior Policy Adviser, Climate & Environment 1. December 2010 14:19

Did the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) get its figures wrong on the number of substances that were to be registered under REACH by 30 November?  ECHA predicted upwards of 5000 substances, we now know that only 4,300 substances have been registered in time for the first deadline.

This disparity is a worry to EEF. We have long been concerned that some chemical manufacturers may decide not to register the substance(s) they produce.  This action would require that the substance(s) be withdrawn from the market.  If downstream users are not informed of this decision it exposes them to business continuity risks. 

It is too early to say whether ECHA has got its figures wrong or not as it will take some time over the coming weeks for the 24,675 individual substance dossiers to be processed.

In ECHA's press release it has said that it will, in the subsequent months, examine any differences between the final number of registered substances against its earlier forecast.  However it does state that the number of registrations is in line with the original Commission estimate.

Here’s hoping for a happy ending.

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Disclaimer
This is an informal blog about health, safety and environmental issues written by EEF's policy, representation and service delivery staff. While it is written from an EEF perspective, contributions should not be taken as formal statements of EEF policy, unless stated otherwise. Nor does it cover all the issues on which we campaign - you can check these out in more detail at our main site.

We welcome and encourage comments, but we reserve the right to remove any that are offensive or irrelevant. We are not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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About EEF

This blog is written by experts from the health, safety and environment team at EEF. We help manufacturing businesses evolve and compete.  We provide them with business services that make them more efficient and management intelligence that helps them plan.  Our work with government encourages policies that make it easy for them to operate, innovate and grow.

Find out more at www.eef.org.uk/about