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Concerns raised for the future of chemical regulation by Lords Committee

13 July 2020

The EU Environment Sub-Committee has written to Defra Secretary of State George Eustice highlighting the significant concerns that remain about the Government's plans for taking on the regulation of chemicals at the end of the Brexit transition period

The chemicals sector is the UK's second biggest manufacturing industry, contributing £12.6 billion to the UK economy in 2019. It is currently regulated by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) under a system known as REACH, but at the end of this year the current arrangements will fall away. This will affect which chemicals can be sold in the UK and exported to the EU, how safety assessments are conducted, and the charges applied for registering a substance.

In November 2018 the EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee published its Brexit: chemical regulation report and began corresponding with then-Minister Thérèse Coffey about the Government's preparations to take over the regulation of chemicals after Brexit. Some of the issues it highlighted were:

  • Strong support from the industry to stay within the EU system
  • Reduced access to critical safety information
  • Significant costs to businesses arising from the system change
  • Reduced scrutiny of decisions to approve chemicals for use
  • Resources needed to set up and run a new system of regulation.

The EU Environment Sub-Committee are concerned that the Government has decided not to seek to continue to participate in the EU system, and that after a year and a half the rest of the concerns have not been addressed.
The Chair of the Sub-Committee has written to the Secretary of State to alert him to the Committee's concerns, and to inform him that they will be returning to the issue in the autumn.

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