Updates on the ever-evolving world of environmental legislation

3rd August 2023

From government compromises on retained EU law, to disposable vapes, Neil Howe provides an update on the ever-evolving world of environmental legislation

Retained EU law act

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 has now been published. It is a controversial area and genuine concerns were raised over earlier drafts regarding the scrapping of crucial environment and safety laws. The Act has been watered down and replaces the originally proposed 2023 sunset date with a list of legislation that is revoked at the end of 2023. The list contains around 600 pieces of legislation as opposed to the estimated 4,000+ that were originally in scope and is largely made up of legislation that is burdensome and duplicative. cedr.ec/92w

ESOS deadline extended

Phase 3 of the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) is due to end this year, which means those who are part of the scheme must confirm their compliance with it by 5 December 2023.

However, the government had planned to make several changes to ESOS through legislation from Phase 3 onwards. These changes were proposed in a July 2021 consultation, with their intentions set out in a formal response in July 2022. With the legislation not finalised and the compliance deadline approaching, the deadline for Phase 3 has been extended to 5 June 2024. This will allow participants to meet the new requirements and for assessors to carry out assessments. cedr.ec/927

Single-use plastics

Following a consultation in November 2021, draft legislation has been produced in England that will restrict the supply of single-use plastic plates, bowls and trays. The Draft Environmental Protection (Plastic Plates etc. and Polystyrene Containers etc.) (England) Regulations will also ban the supply of single-use plastic cutlery, balloon sticks and expanded and foamed extruded polystyrene (EPS/XPS) food and drink containers, including cups. cedr.ec/928

Across the border, Wales has launched similar legislation to restrict the sale and supply of single-use plastics. The Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Act 2023 will apply to things like cutlery, plates, straws, balloon sticks, polystyrene food containers and thin plastic single-use bags. cedr.ec/929


Several notable consultations have also been carried out, which may result in changes to legislation in the near future:

Improvements to reporting

A review has been carried out of the costs and benefits of the non-financial reporting requirements, which also looked at the value of the information produced and how the reporting regime might be improved in the future.

Non-financial reporting includes information on environmental matters, company employees and social, community and human rights issues, including information about any policies of the company in relation to those matters and their effectiveness. cedr.ec/92b

Water pollution measures

Defra has consulted on an expansion of the Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan to include coastal and estuarine waters, to further address the impact of storm sewage overflow discharges across England that pollute the rivers and the sea because of a lack of appropriate investment and maintenance by water companies. cedr.ec/92c

Vape waste

Ireland is the latest country to look into disposable vaping devices. There are emerging concerns around the disposable devices, which have been linked to issues including litter, plastic and hazardous waste and fire risk. This follows on from environmental impact reviews in England and Scotland recently. cedr.ec/92a

Neil Howe PIEMA is head of writing at Barbour EHS

Image credit: Shutterstock


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