London, UK – Significant concerns remain about the UK’s ability to maintain a chemicals trade after Brexit because the government may not have prepared regulations, or properly resourced the regulator.
The House of Lords EU Energy and Environment sub-committee raised its concerns again in early March.
Lord Teverson, chair of the sub-committee, said: ‘We are a mere three weeks away from potentially having to regulate chemicals for ourselves. As far as we can tell we have with neither a functioning database nor a functioning regulator. The government is risking people’s safety, not to mention the viability of the UK’s chemicals sector, by not being adequately prepared.’
The committee has been corresponding with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to find out whether a UK chemicals database will be ready and tested on Brexit day.
It has listed several concerns, based on the Defra minister Therese Coffey latest letter, the publication of the legislation that would implement a UK chemical regulation regime post-Brexit, and new guidance from the European Chemicals Agency.
First, some chemical safety tests may need to be re-done post Brexit. This will increase costs to business and reduce the number of chemicals available in the UK. This would also increase the amount of animal testing.
Second, the minister has not confirmed that the UK’s own database of authorised chemicals will be ready in time. Neither has she explained what the government’s contingency plan is if the database is not ready.
Furthermore, some companies are unaware of the government’s plans for chemical regulation post-Brexit. It is unclear whether the Health and Safety Executive will have sufficient resources to effectively regulate the UK’s chemicals sector.