London — With three weeks until the United Kingdom's deadline to separate from the European Union, significant concerns remain about its ability to maintain a chemical trade.
Robin Teverson, a member of Parliament and chairman of the House of Lords' EU Energy and Environment subcommittee, says that the government may not have prepared regulations, or properly resourced the regulatory agency for its work after Brexit.
"We are a mere three weeks away from potentially having to regulate chemicals for ourselves. As far as we can tell we have with neither a functioning database nor a functioning regulator. The government is risking people's safety, not to mention the viability of the UK's chemicals sector, by not being adequately prepared," Teverson said.
The committee has been corresponding with the U.K.'s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to find out whether a U.K. chemical database will be ready and tested on Brexit day.
It has listed several concerns, based on the Defra Minister Therese Coffey's latest letter, that the publication of the legislation that would require a U.K. chemical regulation regime post-Brexit, and new guidance from the European Chemicals Agency.
First, some chemical safety tests may need to be redone post Brexit. This will increase costs to business and reduce the number of chemicals available in the U.K.. This would also increase the amount of animal testing.
Second, the minister has not confirmed that the U.K.'s own database of authorized chemicals will be ready in time. Neither has she explained what the government's contingency plan is if the database is not ready.
Furthermore, some companies are unaware of the government's plans for chemical regulation post-Brexit. It is unclear whether the Health and Safety Executive will have sufficient resources to effectively regulate the U.K.'s chemical sector.