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New Refcom guidance sets out post-Brexit implications for F-Gas

Updated guidance has noted that many existing commitments of EU regulation are intended to apply to UK businesses certified to handle F-Gas products

Refcom has published new Brexit guidance for the UK cooling industry outlining how F-Gas regulations are expected to apply to their operations upon the country’s scheduled exit from the EU in late March.

The industry body’s latest guidance has noted that from March 30, many of the existing requirements are intended to be transferred directly into UK law. 

This will ensure that the country will continue to restrict ozone depleting substances and curb F-Gas use in line with existing EU-wide commitments.

Requirements intended to be carried over into UK law, even with the uncertain progress of Brexit negotiations, include preventing the intentional and unintentional release of F-gases during production and use, according to Refcom.

Other requirements include ensuring leak checks are carried out and records of work are kept up to date, as well as committing to recover any gas for recycling, reclamation or destruction when equipment is repaired or decommissioned.

The guidance said that UK industry will also have to ensure products and equipment are correctly labelled, while certain equipment and gas are restricted from the market.  

Refcom added that existing qualifications would remain valid and necessary for engineers and technicians in order to undertake work in line with the F-Gas regulations, with certification issued to contractors from other member states also remaining valid after Brexit.

The guidance stated, “For companies the existing registration arrangements with Refcom remain valid. Refcom has confirmed our intention to continue to operate the UK’s largest F-Gas Register for both Great Britain and Northern Ireland after March 30, 2019.”

The organisation added that it would be continuing to update its guidance over the coming months depending on changes both in parliament and the European Commission that it described as “fluid and constantly shifting”.

Defra position

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced in a policy update last month that quotas introduced as part of the EU’s F-Gas regulations will remain in place regardless of the final direction of Brexit.

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.

Defra accepted 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.

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