Last reviewed 20 November 2023

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced changes in the chemicals regulation system it set up after the UK left the European Union.

It had originally adopted UK REACH which was effectively the EU REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) system under new branding.

However, in a paper available here, Defra has now said that it plans to respond to concerns raised by the chemicals industry about the significant cost to businesses of accessing EU data packages to support UK REACH transitional registrations.

Together with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency (UK REACH regulators), Defra has been exploring options for an alternative transitional registration model (ATRm).

This will, it said, aim to reduce the costs to businesses while continuing to ensure the UK’s overarching commitment to high levels of protection of human health and the environment.

“Under this approach,” the paper states, “we can tailor the requirements we set for Great Britain registration of chemicals to focus on gathering information on the use and exposure of the chemicals, in particular those of higher concern.”

It should be noted that the requirements of EU REACH will continue to apply in Northern Ireland under the terms of the Windsor Framework.

While it intend to consult on fuller details of the policy in early 2024, Defra has highlighted that significant progress has already been made with regard to:

  • refining what information on “use and exposure” in Great Britain registrants will need to provide

  • reducing to the essential minimum the “hazard” information required for transitional registrations and intermediates

  • reviewing the existing fees structure for UK REACH to ensure a more sustainable funding model, including exploring reducing the current fee levels for UK REACH registrations

  • revising the UK REACH restriction processes to ensure there is the flexibility to act as quickly as possible where risks have been identified, drawing on work by UK regulators and from other sources.