Government asked to rethink UK-REACH

13 October 2020 | Muriel Cozier

‘We are especially concerned about the costs of the data requirements of UK REACH…’

The Chair of the UK Government’s EU Environment Sub-Committee has written to the Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs expressing concerns around the Government’s plans for the UK’s chemical regulation from the 1st January 2021.

In the letter, Committee Chair Lord Teverson said; ‘We are especially concerned about the costs of the data requirements of UK REACH. If no data-sharing agreement is reached with the EU, companies will be required to submit chemicals safety data to the UK’s new database. Often companies do not own that data… Estimates of the cost of purchasing or replicating the data are severe,’ the letter states.

‘We sometimes forget that the chemical industry in the UK is largely made up of smaller companies which do not have deep pockets, particularly in time of crisis.’

The letter continued ‘New thinking is required from the Government to ensure the UK regime will regulate chemicals effectively without placing excessive burden on industry. Ultimately it is in the Government’s gift to resolve these issues. Industry’s priority is for the UK regime to remain consistent with EU REACH, and our priority is to protect the UK economy and consumers. A data sharing agreement is the way to accomplish those things.’

The letter comes after the EU Environment Sub-Committee heard from a panel of witnesses about the practical challenges and high costs of submitting chemicals safety information to the UK REACH system and the impact it would have on small companies. The panel expressed the importance of a data sharing agreement with the EU for protecting UK consumers and the environment. This hearing took place on 7th October.

The letter concludes with a request for an ‘evidence session’ to be arranged between the Department for the Environment Food and Rural affairs, which is in charge of UK REACH, and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department.

‘In the meantime, we urge you to do all you can to secure a data-sharing agreement with the EU. In the absence of this, we strongly recommend that the Government reconsiders its approach to UK REACH to ensure that the regime will protect human and environmental health without negatively impacting the UK economy,’ Lord Teverson said.

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