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UK REACH deadline to be extended

The UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced that it has committed to “exploring alternative arrangements for UK REACH transitional registrations … in order to support chemical businesses whilst upholding the highest standards to safeguard public health and the environment”.

UK REACH, the key regulatory tool for the control of chemicals, came into place when the UK left the EU on 1 January 2021 and chemical businesses operating within Great Britain (GB, i.e. England, Scotland and Wales) have already provided initial information under the transitional provisions. Northern Ireland remains in the EU regulatory regime.

Defra said that the government will consult on extending the deadlines for providing the full registration data during 2022, with more details to follow after discussions with stakeholders. Alongside this, it will engage with industry and other stakeholders “to explore whether there are opportunities to reduce the need for industry to replicate existing EU REACH data by placing a greater emphasis on understanding how chemicals are used in GB”.

The Chemical Industries Association, the main UK trade association for chemicals, which has always advocated for close regulatory alignment with the EU, said that it was “pleased that the impact of duplicating the cost of our decade-long investment in EU REACH has been recognised by government”. Extending UK REACH deadlines, the association said, “provides more time to carry out further work on a longer-term solution which can deliver the same, if not better, outcomes in regulating chemicals in the UK, whilst reducing those unnecessary costs generated by the costly data duplication exercise required by the current UK REACH regime”.

For the Chemical Business Association, which represents distributors, chief executive, Tim Doggett said: “This is a common sense, pragmatic way forward to solving what is an intractable problem. The original intention – to create a mirror image of the data held by the European Chemicals Agency for EU REACH – would involve replicating this testing data for UK purposes. This would be a massive cost to UK industry as well as the likelihood of having to repeat and duplicate animal testing.”

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