Environment and Health & Safety Legal Update Webinar – February 2022

On 3rd February 2022 we held our environment and health & safety legal update webinar led by two of our consultants, Mick Baah and Hannah Williams. During the session, we provided an overview of what has changed in environment and health & safety legislation in the past year. We also looked at any relevant legislation that is on the horizon.

The session began with a focus on the changes in H&S legislation including: 

  • Key Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates
  • REACH and chemicals update
  • Information on The Fire Safety Act 2021 and The Building Safety Bill
  • CA/CE marking

We then moved on to look at key changes in environmental legislation including: 

  • The Environment Act 2021
  • The Plastic Packaging Tax
  • Key changes in legislation relating to energy and climate change
Simple and clear legal updates specific to you

Questions & Answers

During the webinar, we gathered your questions and have answered them below. If you’d like to know more about our Consultancy Service or the Legislation Update Service, please contact us.

Environment Related Questions

What is the impact for local authorities as a regulator in relation to the Environment Act 2021

I have summarised below the main impacts of the Environment Act 2021 so far on local authorities:

  • Local authorities are given power under the Clean Air Act 1993 to give fines for emission of smoke in smoke control areas in England.
  • The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 is amended to make it more explicit that public authorities in England must assess how they take action to conserve and enhance biodiversity. Specified public authorities are also required under the 2006 Act to produce biodiversity reports on how they have conserved and enhanced biodiversity.
  • Local nature recovery strategies (LNRSs) are to be created for areas in England. LNRSs must be made and published by the responsible authority; this may be the local authority, the Mayor of London, the combined authority mayor, a National Park Authority, the Broads Authority, or Natural England. The LNRS must include a statement of biodiversity priorities for the strategy area and a local habitat map for the area.
  • If the local authority is involved in waste collection, the Act brings in measures around the separation of waste in England. This includes having to collect recyclable waste separately from other household waste to allow it to be recycled or composted. Note this is not yet in force and futher Regulations are required setting when this section will apply.


Do we have any idea when any new legislation will come in with regards to the Environment Act 2021?

In relation to the Environment Act, unfortunatley we have no information from the Government on future supplementary legislation other than the information in any current consultations on draft legislation that are in process. However I would expect legislation to be in the near future as the Act was first brought into law in November 2021 so has been around for several months now.


Does the plastic packaging tax apply if your product arrives with plastic shrink wrap around it for example?

The plastic packaging tax, as it stands, does not apply to shrink wrap. This is because it falls under the definition of ‘transport packaging’ which is classed as at out scope of the tax. Transport packaging used to import goods into the UK is exempt from the tax if it is used to both transport multiple sales units or grouped packaging and prevent damage during transportation. Take a look at the ‘transport packaging’ section of the government guidance on this webpage.


In relation to the plastic packaging tax is it £200 per tonne of cargo containing plastics or plastic packaging?

The tax is charged on the weight of the plastic packaging only at £200 per tonne. You can find out more about how to work out the weight of plastic packaging here.


Plastic tax - Is this different to producer responsibility - I.e only manufacturers - not fill/sell roles?

Yes the tax is different to the scheme under The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007 in the way that the tax only applies to producers and importers of plastic packaging. For the 2007 Regulations there are obligations on any organisations that handle packaging. So if you are only purchasing plastic packaging from a UK supplier, i.e. not importing it into the UK, and using it to package products then the new plastic packaging tax is not applicable. I would still encourage you to find out the recycled content of any packaging the organisation purchases in order to have an awareness of the environmental impact of the packaging used and be prepared for any future requirements.


In relation to plastic packaging tax. Has there been any clarification as to whether printing a blank label is considered a substantial change and therefore liable for the tax?

Plastic Packaging Tax is due on plastic packaging components when they’re ‘finished’. A component is finished when it has undergone its last substantial modification. A substantial modification is the last manufacturing process which changes the nature of the packaging component. Labelling packaging is given as an example of a change that is not classed as a substantial modification as seen here.

Note that there are some draft regulations which were consulted on in the summer 2021. I would expect these to explain substantial modification further when they come into force: The Plastic Packaging Tax (General [Substantial Modification]) Regulations 2021. More information can be found here.


Will the new electronic waste transfer system be applicable to all industries?

The Environment Act 2021 has only brought in the ability for future regulations to be made that introduce an electronic waste tracking system, so there is no system yet in place. The system may require information about waste to be entered onto an electronic system by waste controllers (e.g. anyone who imports, produces, keeps, treats, manages or disposes of waste) or waste regulation authorities (e.g. the Environment Agency) about the processing, movement or transfer of waste.


When are the new regulations in respect to biodiversity net gain expected to be put in place?

The consultation around these regulations closes in April 2022, so it certainly won’t be before then. How long regulations can take to be published after being consulted on varies massively. The link to the consultation so you can find out more about the regulations is here.


Where's the consultation paper for the climate change agreement (CCA)?

The link to the consultation is held in the consultations area of LUS so you can find it in the entry entitled ‘Climate Change Agreements – Proposals for a future scheme’. It is also accessible through this link.


H&S Related Questions

Can you clairfy Limb (B) please? It seems to be coming up more frequently!

Limb (b) workers would be for example a dependent contractor (i.e a self-employed worker/contractor that is carrying out work or service as part of someone’s else’s business/activities)


Does the aims of the Building Safety Bill tread on the toes of CDM 2025 somewhat?

It does and there is definite overlap or mirroring. The bill is very much focusing on accountability and provides clarity about the responsibilities of duty holders and their respective roles during the project (i.e. procurement, design, construction and maintenance of buildings) Also it ensures those who have a stake in the building project can be held to account.


Will the Building Safety Bill regulations run alongside Building Regulations?

The Building Safety Bill will become law in stages in the next 12 months and will run alongside the draft building safety regulations which have been published.


Does the building safety bill apply to all structures or just residential which may be higher or lower the 18 Metres?

The Building Safety Bill is applicable to high rise buildings (at least 18 metres in height or have at least 7 storeys and at least 2 residential units). Applies to care homes and hospitals meeting the same height threshold during their design and construction. Higher risk buildings are defined by their height and use.


Is the Building Safety Bill for new builds and/or existing

The Bill applies to new and existing builds.


Will the Levy cover more historical items other than cladding. E.g Fire separation?

At this time, the money from the levy will be used to meet government expenditure on building safety. The full extent of what is covered in building safety expenditure it would seem is still being debated or disputed. (The only specific example given is the provision of assistance for the removal of unsafe cladding)


Does the building safety bill apply to commercial builds?

Possibly. The Bill predominantly applies to buildings that are at least 18 metres in height or have at least 7 storeys and have at least two residential units, – “higher risk buildings”. However, there is scope for the bill to adapted over time to allow for the scope of the higher risk building term to be changed.


Is the Building Safety bill aligned to CDM (Design/Construction)?

Yes in some ways. The bill is very much focusing on accountability and provides clarity about the responsibilities of duty holders and their respective roles during the project (i.e. procurement, design, construction and maintenance of buildings). It also ensures that those who have a stake in the building project can be held to account. CDM Regs deal with the specifics in terms of managing the construction work and how that can be achieved with an explanation of the key roles and responsibilities in this process.


Regarding REACH: What if we import mixtures? The DUIN report had to include only the substances (part of mixtures) imported > 1 tonnes per year?

Registration is not normally required for mixtures or formulations. However, the substances that comprise a mixture must be registered if the aggregated import volumes for any of those substances reach 1 tonne or more per year.


I work for a UK manufacturing company lower-tier COMAH site. How do I know what aspects of REACH applies to my organisation?

UK REACH will apply to your organisation if you make or import chemicals into GB which are hazardous or non-hazardous in quantities of over 1 tonne per annum. There is some very good information here as starting for you to help you determine if your organisation fall under the scope of UK REACH


What is the definition of UKCA

The definition of UKCA is UK Conformity Assessed.


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