Chemicals: Regulation

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 20th January 2022.

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Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Swansea West

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether his Department has carried out a cost and benefit analysis of changes to the identification and control of Substances of Very High Concern.

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Last year the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) legislation was brought into UK law, retaining the fundamental approach and key principles of EU REACH and ensuring a high level of protection of human health and the environment.

Within UK REACH, the Candidate List is a list of substances of very high concern (SVHCs) that can be prioritised for inclusion on the Authorisation List. Once a substance is added to the Authorisation List, it may not be used after the specified ‘sunset date’ unless the Secretary of State has granted a business-specific authorisation for that use.

The substances on the EU REACH candidate list were automatically carried forward to UK REACH. In future, substances will be added to the list on the basis of the best UK scientific advice, taking into account our own risk assessments.

Defra, the Welsh and Scottish governments have agreed an interim approach to adding new SVHCs to the list (published on gov.uk: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-reach-approach-to-including-substances-of-very-high-concern-on-the-candidate-list). This is based on expert advice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency (EA), as well as feedback from a range of stakeholders.

We believe that focussing the Candidate List on identifying substances that are genuine candidates for authorisation – the statutory purpose of the list – will more effectively enable substitution away from the most hazardous substances. The regulatory pressure from inclusion on the Candidate List can be diluted if there is little realistic chance of added substances being made subject to authorisation.

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