Lords demand more from Whitehall on future of UK chemicals sector
22 Jan 2019
Peers have told the Government to provide further detail on its plans for safeguarding the UK chemical industry, post-Brexit.
In November the House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-committee highlighted shortcomings in its report ‘Brexit: chemical regulation’ that it said needed to be addressed before the UK could ensure trade and regulations were maintained.
Subcommittee members said that Defra minister Therese Coffey’s recent response included a more credible approach to information gathering and had identified a regulatory authority.
However, the executive’s outline remained “vague and insufficient”, they insisted. Committee chair Lord Teverson expressed his impatience over the failure to satisfy peers' concerns:
He remarked: “Last year we were hugely concerned about the scale of work that needed to be done to maintain adequate chemical regulation in light of Brexit, and frankly the Minister’s response to our report has done little to alleviate our concerns.
Chief areas of concern were the lack of:
Steps to allow UK businesses to retain market access in Europe
Assurances that the new UK chemicals database would be completed in time
Detail outlining how chemical risk assessment would be carried out
Additionally, the subcommittee cited the potential loss of thousands of chemicals follow EU withdrawal.
Frankly the Minister’s response to our report has done little to alleviate our concerns
Lord Teverson, chair, EU Energy and Environment sub-committee, House of Lords
Remarked Teverson: “It seems Brexit could leave us without a functioning and populated UK chemicals database, without an independent and transparent process for risk assessments, and without access to the thousands of chemicals produced by EU-led companies.
“I hope the Minister can provide further assurances on the measures that are being put in place, otherwise we risk a severe impact on the UK chemical and manufacturing industries, and potentially on human and environmental health.”