Regulating chemicals (REACH) if there's no Brexit deal

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What does the notice say?

This notice sets out how businesses producing, registering, importing or exporting chemicals would be affected if the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no deal. 

The notice applies to chemicals controlled under REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) regulation, such as paints, glues, solvents and cleaning materials. REACH regulation ensures the safe use of these chemicals. It does not apply to chemicals in veterinary medicines, plant protection products (pesticides) or biocides, which are regulated under separate more specific legislation.

What does this mean for me and my business?

Most businesses would use chemicals regulated under REACH without realising it. They may be used in the manufacture of finished goods or simply to keep your machinery operating and your premises clean. However, the measures set out in this notice are unlikely to affect you or your farming business directly, as the main implications are for businesses that are producing, registering, importing or exporting these chemicals.

Generally, if you use chemicals or mixtures of them (e.g. paint, lubricants, cleaning agents etc) in the way that is expected then REACH and the future UK regulation of chemicals will probably have limited implications for you.

The notice basically sets-out that in the short term there will be very close regulatory alignment with the existing EU framework, with a transition period to minimise disruption as business move to being fully regulated under a UK regulatory framework. This transition will ensure continuity for businesses alongside maintaining protections for human health and the environment.

If your business relies on using chemicals that aren’t very common you may need to make sure that these chemicals will still available for your uses. You should consider contacting your supplier to find out if the chemical(s) in question have been pre-registered or registered by whoever makes or imports it and that your uses are or will be covered by the registration. It’s possible some companies, for business reasons, may decide not to register some chemicals. In this case you may need to find an alternative manufacturer/importer or even re-think your processes.

What is the NFU doing?

The main challenge in this area is the UK regulator developing its own IT system to replace EU REACH IT system. Our understanding is this work is well underway and expected to be ready by March 2019. The NFU will continue to monitor how the situation around REACH and UK regulation of chemicals develops, however our principle focus and activity will be on the areas of veterinary medicines, plant protection products (pesticides) or biocides, which we expect to be the topic of separate no-deal notices.

Where can I find out more?

To view this ‘no –deal’ notice please click here. 

The NFU believes that as we leave the EU, we have the opportunity to create an efficient and robustly risk and science-based UK pesticides regulation that could achieve the triple win of maintaining the highest standards of consumer and environmental protection, enabling trade, and creating more benefits for UK farm businesses. Read our report on improving pesticide regulation here. 

Keep up to date on the NFU’s work on crop protection and pesticides here.

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