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DEFRA still open to F-gas database talks

DEFRA-F-gas-consultUK: DEFRA has indicated that it is still prepared to discuss the possibility of a centralised database of F-gas certified companies and individuals.

With the new F-gas regulations making it illegal to sell refrigerant or pre-charged air conditioning and refrigeration equipment to any non-certified companies or individuals, the UK industry has been calling for an easily accessible means of checking customer compliance.

The subject is said to have provoked a number of comments to DEFRA’s F-gas consultation document, Implementing the new EU Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulation, the responses to which are published today.

While the UK Government has so far avoided implementing a national database of registered companies and certified installers, in the document DEFRA says it is happy to consider this issue in more depth with the industry. However, it adds: “The benefits would need to be assessed and weighed against the costs to businesses and/or the public of establishing and maintaining a system, alongside alternative ways of ensuring compliance with the certification requirements.”

In the meantime, the Government recommends that suppliers obtain a letter of assurance from customers that the F-gases will be used by appropriately qualified personnel. More detailed guidance, including a sample letter of assurance, is available here.

No extra policing resources

The consultation document also reveals that the Government is unlikely to increase its policing of the regulations despite some respondents repeating industry concerns that insufficient resource was dedicated to enforcement and that enforcement activities were not sufficiently visible to act as a deterrent.

DEFRA points out that the Government’s aim is to ensure that enforcement measures are sufficient to achieve the overall objective of the regulation – to reduce F-gas usage – while keeping costs to businesses and the public no higher than is necessary to meet that objective.

“In order to achieve that balance,” says DEFRA, “the enforcement bodies take a risk-based approach, focusing in particular on those undertakings and activities where lack of compliance is likely to be highest. This produces a good level of compliance without excessive burdens on businesses or wasted resources. So far, this approach appears to have been working sufficiently well as analysis shows the growth in emissions of F-gases has been stemmed in the past few years.”

However, DEFRA says it regularly reviews the appropriate level of enforcement and will continue to do so as the new requirements bed down.

Enforcement in England is currently undertaken by the Environment Agency with support as necessary from local authorities. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Natural Resources Wales and Northern Irish local authorities undertake enforcement in their respective parts of the UK. In addition, HMRC is responsible for enforcement in respect of imports and specialist enforcement officers undertake the work on offshore installations.

The consultation document is said to have received a total of 27 responses, mostly from associations, including ACRIB and the European contractors association AREA, refrigerants suppliers, certification training companies, as well as the environmental group, the EIA.

The full document can be accessed here.

Related stories:

UK wants national F-gas database – November 18, 2014
UK: The refrigeration and air conditioning industry is calling for a national register of F-gas certified  companies and individuals in order to ensure compliance with the F-gas regulations. Read more…

DEFRA seeks comments on F-gas enforcement – December 16, 2014
UK: DEFRA is seeking comments on its plans to issue enforcement notices rather than take court action against those breaching the new F-gas regulations. Read more…

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