Companies dealing with fluorinated gases that are used as refrigerants face the prospect of having to reapply for quotas and learning new IT systems if the UK leaves the EU without any deal on 29 March.
The government has vowed to maintain the same high standards in regulating fluorinated gases that are currently in place if a deal isn’t reached, but UK businesses will be forced to get their head around a fresh set of processes.
Use of the main group of F-gases, known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), is currently being phased down under the EU Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulation to help address climate change, as well as implementing international obligations under the Montreal Protocol.
Businesses are currently allocated a quota allowing them to place HFCs on the EU market but they must have an office or ‘Only Representative’ in the EU. The regulation also bans certain uses, requires leakage checks and requires handlers of F-gases to be trained and certified, with certificates mutually recognised by EU countries.
If the UK exits the EU without a deal, the UK will set up its own quota systems and companies will receive two HFC quotas: one for placing on the UK market issued by the UK government and another for placing on the market for EU countries, issued by the EU Commission.
New UK IT systems will be established and administered by the Environment Agency. The reporting requirements on businesses will not change, only the IT systems they use.
Any business that produces, imports or exports HFCs or equipment pre-charged with HFCs will need to apply for a UK quota to place them on the UK market. They will also have to use the new UK systems to report on their use of F-gases.
The UK will continue using the same quota method and schedule to phase down HFCs, administered through a separate UK system run by the Environment Agency.
If the UK leaves the EU without any deal, the Environment Agency plans to notify companies of their UK reference value (the baseline for calculating annual UK quota values) and UK HFC quota for the period from 30 March 2019 to 31 December 2019.
They will also continue to get a quota from the European Commission, adjusted to deduct their UK market share.
Businesses not based in the UK will need to appoint an ‘Only Representative’ in the UK to be eligible for a UK quota.
There will also be a new UK HFC registry and reporting system, to capture the same type of information as is currently recorded on the EU HFC registry and F-gas reporting tool.