From ESOS to CBAM… Neil Howe provides acronym explanations in a round-up of environmental legislation

1st February 2024

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Neil Howe

The year has started as it means to go on, with some significant changes to legislation that will affect organisations’ compliance.

Waste disposal requirements

Welsh government ministers have published legislation that will create new requirements relating to waste separation for collection and the ultimate disposal of certain types of waste streams. It will come into force on 6 April 2024, leaving companies four months to prepare for the changes.

The Waste Separation Requirements (Wales) Regulations 2023 set out how commercial premises in Wales will need to separate their waste. Certain recycling waste streams, such as glass, metal and plastic, and food, will need to be presented separately for collection and must not be mixed on collection.

In addition, the Prohibition on the Incineration, or the Deposit in Landfill, of Specified Waste (Wales) Regulations 2023 make amendments to the environmental permitting regime to include the above waste streams in the types of specified waste that are prohibited from being incinerated or sent to landfill.

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ESOS regulations amended

The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2023 came into force in 2023 and made important amendments to the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), with the aim of encouraging participants to go beyond just auditing their energy use and take action on their findings to make energy savings.

The reforms largely follow those set out in a public consultation in 2021-2022 and include strengthening and standardising the requirements for audits; improving the quality of audits; and requiring public disclosure of ESOS data and high-level recommendations by participants. Significantly, the amendments also extend the compliance date for Phase 3 until 5 June 2024.

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CBAM announced

The UK government has confirmed that a UK Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) will be implemented by 2027. In 2023, the government consulted on the adoption of policies to address “carbon leakage risk to support decarbonisation”.

CBAM is intended to mitigate carbon leakage risks by ensuring that imports of products that face a cost of carbon under the UK Emissions Trading Scheme pay an equivalent charge at the border. It will initially apply to imports of emissions-intensive industrial goods, including aluminium, cement, ceramics, fertiliser, glass, hydrogen, iron and steel.

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Some key consultations have already been published, as government looks to shape the legislative landscape for 2024.

WEEE reforms

Defra is seeking views on proposed reforms to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations 2013. The aim is to raise levels of separately collected WEEE for re-use and recycling and to support the drive towards a circular economy by ensuring products have a lower environmental impact.

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Water supply

The Scottish government has set out proposed policy changes for the future of the water industry in Scotland in response to the climate emergency. The proposals are designed to protect the supply of water, as well as improve wastewater and drainage services and prepare for the future impacts of climate change on them.

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Energy scheme

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has launched a consultation on a new six-year Climate Change Agreements (CCA) scheme, which would create new target periods from 2025 to 2030, with three certification periods running up until 31 March 2033. The current CCA scheme was introduced to encourage businesses with energy-intensive processes to invest in energy-efficiency measures in return for reduced Climate Change Levy rates. It will run until 31 March 2025, with reduced rate eligibility until 31 March 2027.

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In court

A record £1m donation has been paid by Yorkshire Water following a pollution incident at a watercourse in Harrogate. Such donations are a form of civil sanction, where companies can rectify damage they have caused and avoid prosecution.

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Lastly, in case law, in John Paton and Sons Ltd v Glasgow City Council, the operator of a vehicle repair business challenged the lawfulness of central Glasgow’s low emission zone scheme, and the scheme’s penalty levels.

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