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Defra commits to unchanged F-Gas quotas post-Brexit

Department sets out intentions for retaining targets in line with landmark EU legislation, albeit it with new registration requirements, even in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit

Quotas introduced as part of the EU’s F-Gas regulations will remain in place regardless of the final direction of Brexit, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has said in a policy update.

A notice from the department has been published to try and provide some certainty over F-Gas administration from when the UK is scheduled to leave the EU on March 30, 2019

Existing targets that the UK subscribes to will remain in place to limit availability of HFCs and other substances targeted under the regulation, however there will be some changes in registering for quota in either the UK or EU.

Defra said that the availability of higher GWP refrigerant will remain at 63 per cent of the initial baseline for 2019 and 2020, with the quota cut to 45 per cent in 2021.

The department noted that a majority of rules concerning F-Gas would not change after Brexit, yet the UK would need to begin operating a separate quota system that will see changes in terms of reporting progress.

With uncertainty seemingly continuing into 2019 over the direction of the UK’s future relationship with the EU after its exit in spite of industry calls for clarity, media reports suggest government is ramping up preparations that a deal can be reached and backed by parliament by March.

Defra said that a failure to reach an exit agreement with the EU, would mean that F-Gas and ODS regulations would not formally apply from March 30. However, government has claimed that new UK regulations would be introduced to transfer requirements into national legislation.

This in turn would require companies producing, importing or selling HFCS or ozone depleting products to either apply for separate quota to sell either in the UK or EU market

The quota would apply for businesses putting HFC products equivalent to 100 tonnes or more of CO2 a year from March 2019.

This new F-Gas system will operate across the entirety of the UK and will be managed by the Environment Agency, added Defra.

Refcom head Graeme Fox noted that the proposals created little change over the existing regulation for contractors from both a personal and company capacity.

Mr Fox added that changes would be a little more pronounced for distributors, manufacturers and quota holders concerning registration and reporting quota online to the Environment Agency as opposed to the EU.

He said, “This is where there may be some discomfort as, if the manufacturer/distributor works in the UK and the EU (as most do at some level) then they’ll be duplicating work in some cases.”

“Preparation now by these companies, by starting to identify how much quota is needed for the UK market going forward would be useful and sensible for them.”

Mr Fox noted that Defra’s announcement was intended to create some certainty around ensuring ongoing compliance with F-Gas targets if a Brexit deal is not reached with the EU.

A proposed vote in parliament on a final exit deal that has been agreed by the UK and EU governments was shelved earlier this month by Prime Minister Theresa May over fears about a lack of support in the Commons.

A delayed vote on the proposed agreement, which the EU has said cannot be amended further, is now scheduled for an as yet to be finalised date later in January. This will ensure ongoing uncertainty over the Christmas period with deadline looming to decide on a mutual arrangement for leaving that will likely influence any future trading relationship.

Industry bodies representing the building services sector have continued to demand that a ‘no-deal’ Brexit is avoided at all costs in order to prevent significant disruption to trade, skills and components.

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