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Defra U-turns on uncertified F-Gas purchases

The UK Government has announced that unqualified persons can now legally purchase F-gases for use in mobile air-conditioning systems (MAC), despite previously placing a ban on the activity.

In June 2015 the Environment Agency issued a notice to wholesalers, retailers and technicians in the MAC sector.

The notice stated that it was no longer legal to sell F-Gas refrigerant for the servicing of MAC in passenger cars, unless the customer purchasing the gas could demonstrate that the person intending to install it held a qualification in refrigerant recovery.

This was based on advice from the European Commission (EC) that article 11(4) of the 2014 ruling EU Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulation prohibited sales to unqualified people for the purpose of servicing MAC in cars.

However, on the issue of the notice, the EC’s interpretation of the legislation was questioned by the UK industry stakeholders and  Defra sought additional legal advice.

“In a statement released last month it said: “Defra believes that such restriction do not apply for the servicing of MAC, only for the recovery of F-gases in such systems.

“Therefore, the UK Government believes that it remains legal to sell F-gases for use in MAC systems to those who do not hold recovery qualifications.

“Such F-gas products must nevertheless still comply with the 2014 Regulation, which requires that they are sold in refillable containers (Article 11(1)and Annex 111) with suitable provision having been made for its return for retrofitting.”

Readers' comments (2)

  • DEFRA has got this situation all wrong.
    we have spent the past 2-3 years flagging up the need for f-Gas certification and they sank all the hard work by a lot of people on the whim of the DIY market and the word RECOVERY. this has clearly been done without any understanding that Recovery is only part of the AC procedure.
    Recovery is used by bodyshops when vehicles have been in a collision, by AC specialists when looking at wrong pressure readings which may involve a leak in the system or when lack of servicing has meant not enough refrigerant in the system to let it operate efficiently and it also allows older refrigerant and moisture etc to be removed, it is also important prior to OFN testing ensuring that refrigerant can be safely re-charged into the system
    none of the above applies to DIY but it does allow them to side step this vital procedures of AC and to recharge a system that is almost certain to have a leak, to plug into AC without any knowledge or training.
    an example for DEFRA is a lady who removed the Schraeder valve on the HP side because she thought that was how to refill.
    DEFRA has not listened to the trade nor to refrigerant manufacturers/re-fillers, what a wasted 2-3 years of time and effort, holed below the waterline by your own is scandalous.

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  • DEFRA's indifference toward RAC Industry is demonstrated time and time again by the low level of importance that attribute to the compliance. So many RAC companies have invested in training and certification that the lack of support is insulting to this industry.
    It is almost as scandalous as the continued deference shown by our trade bodies towards DEFRA. No matter how many times DEFRA kick us our trade bodies go back for more.
    It is time NOT to accept the trade bodies response of 'doing our best' as good enough.

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