Guidance and Interpretation

Councils' role under EU fluorinated greenhouse gases and ozone-depleting substances regulations


GB Councils have a regulatory role - along with the Environment Agency and SEPA - under the new GB fluorinated greenhouse gases (f-gases) and ozone-depleting substances (ODS) regulations, which implement EU regulations. Northern Irelandwill introduce separate legislation.

Councils' regulatory role is likely to be focused on businesses responsible for significant f-gas emissions, including large supermarkets and large food and drink manufacturers. Defra has funded a support unit called "F-Gas Support" to help promote businesses' compliance with the f-gas and ODS regulations. Although the EC Regulations apply UK-wide and there are GB regulations that set out offences, penalties and regulators' powers, F-Gas Support is currently only funded by Defra and the support it offers only extends to England.

Defra has agreed with LACORS that regulators must be fully supported and adequately funded if English regulators are to properly address its duty to tackle climate change through these regulations, although funding for 09-10 has yet to be finalised and signed off.

The EC has brought into force Regulations to reduce emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases, available here. F gases - such as hydrofluorocarbons, HFCs - are much stronger greenhouse gases than CO2 and are used most widely in refrigeration and air conditioning systems (e.g. supermarkets, and food and drink manufacturers). But they also have diverse uses in many sectors of the UKeconomy, from magnesium smelting through to use as a propellant in medical inhalers for asthma sufferers.

The point of this European regulation is to reduce emissions of F gases by getting end users to better control their use and, in particular, to try and reduce rates of refrigerant leakage. Most of the provisions in the EC F gas Regulation have applied since 4 July 2007, but the GB Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations 2009 prescribe requirements for companies and qualifications for personnel working in five industry sectors covered by the EC regulation, offences and penalties for failure to comply and sets out the GB regulators.The GB Regulations came into force on 9 March 2009 and replace the previous GB regulations that came into force on 15 February 2008.

There is also an EC Regulation in place that aims to reduce emissions from equipment still containing ODS (such as hydrochlorofluorocarbons, HCFCs) - still used in some refrigeration and air conditioning systems. The EC Regulation is available here. However, these gases have largely been replaced by other gases such as F gases. Regulatory responsibilities are similar to those for F gases although the duties the corresponding EC regulations put on businesses are a little different from the F-Gas Regulations. The GB Ozone-Depleting Substances (Qualifications) Regulations 2009 are available here.

In GB, councils and the national environment agencies are the regulators.

Councils are the regulators for commercial and retail businesses, and industrial sites not regulated by the GB environment agencies. It is intended that either environmental health or trading standards services can regulate a particular business under the F-gas or ODS regulations depending on the circumstances (e.g. the nature of the issue, whether any councils have a home/lead/primary authority arrangement with the business). The Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) are regulators at industrial sites they currently regulate under IPPC/PPC; BERR is the regulator for offshore installations.

Defra has set up a central team called F-Gas Support. It is helping end-user organisations understand their obligations under the F gas and ozone-depleting substance Regulations. Defra and F-Gas Support have set up a helpdesk (0161 874 3663; and , developed advice and guidance, and dedicated web pages to help users understand their obligations ( F-Gas Support also works with councils and national regulators to help them promote compliance with these important environmental Regulations. F-Gas Support is being run on behalf of Defra and the devolved administrations by LACORS and the environmental consultancy Enviros.

In addition, F-Gas Support is working proactively with the largest f-gas emitters. Defra's research on F gas use in the UKhighlighted that fewer than 200 organisations are responsible for 80% of F gas emissions. F-Gas Support is contacting these large F gas emitters to gain commitment to take action to comply with the Regulations - making home and lead authorities, and councils involved in pilot primary authorities aware as they do so.

Thanks to:

  • Nick Clack
    Local Government House

F-gases and ODS - How do I comply?

First - Find out if you are affected

Check the Key Obligations Information Sheet for the equipment type or activities relevant to your business (see the information on F-Gas using Sectors on F gases and ODS: Impact on sectors.

Information Sheet GEN 4 give links to all the relevant regulations and legislation

Second - Determine which parts of your business are affected

For example, you may operate in a "specialist" sector, but still have air-conditioning equipment containing F gases. Think about all the parts of your business where you may use refrigeration, air conditioning, heat pumps, fire protection or high voltage switchgear containing F gases or ODS. You may need to identify the fluids you are using in any of these systems to check if they are covered by the Regulations. See Information Sheets GEN 2 and GEN3 for more details.

What do I need to do?

For most companies you need to:

  • Check equipment for leakage (how frequently you need to check will depend on amount of F gas contained),
  • Keep appropriate records,
  • Use appropriately qualified engineers or personnel (either in-house staff or contractors),
  • Ensure proper recovery of F gases to ensure the recycling, reclamation or destruction,
  • Ensure that only refillable containers are used for transporting gases,
  • Plan for future market prohibitions.

F gases and ODS: Impact on sectors

Our Information Sheets should help explain how the F gas Regulations apply to different sectors. They are intended for everyone who may have obligations in relation to:

  • Use of F gases and ODS
  • Manufacture and supply of F gases and ODS
  • Manufacture, selling, using, maintaining or dismantling of equipment containing (or intended to contain) F gases and ODS
  • Specialist areas mainly involving the manufacture of, or the use in manufacture of, F gases.