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November 13, 2023

Defra Publishes Policy Paper on UK REACH Alternative Transitional Registration Model

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

On November 9, 2023, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) published a policy paper on a UK Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) alternative transitional registration model (ATRm). According to Defra, in response to concerns raised by the chemicals industry about the significant cost to businesses of accessing European Union (EU) data packages to support UK REACH transitional registrations, Defra has been exploring options with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Environment Agency (UK REACH regulators) for an ATRm.

Defra states that the government’s ambition is to establish a more comprehensive picture of where and how chemicals are used in Great Britain (GB). Defra will tailor the requirements for GB chemical registration to focus on gathering information on the use and exposure of the chemicals, in particular those of higher concern. It will augment this by requiring any further data needed for regulatory purposes in a targeted way, as new or emerging risks are identified by the United Kingdom (UK) or other global sources. According to Defra, it has made significant progress on developing proposals on which to consult in the following areas:

  • Refining what information on “use and exposure” in GB registrants will need to provide. Defra notes that this is the “critical information” that it expects industry to have to ensure they fully understand and manage risks, and that GB regulators need to prioritize regulatory action;
  • Reducing to the essential minimum the “hazard” information required for transitional registrations and intermediates. This will mean that UK REACH registrants will not generally need to access and pay for data packages held by EU industry consortia;
  • Significantly reducing the estimated £2 billion costs to industry associated with buying or accessing EU hazard information;
  • Improving regulator powers so that they can require and receive data from registrants quickly for regulatory or risk prioritization purposes, ensuring they can respond to new or emerging risks;
  • Reviewing the existing fees structure for UK REACH to ensure a more sustainable funding model, including exploring reducing the current fee levels for UK REACH registrations; and
  • Revising the UK REACH restriction processes to ensure Defra has the flexibility to act as quickly as possible where risks have been identified, drawing on work by UK regulators and from other sources.

Defra states that it is also looking at how it might improve the working of REACH in the medium to long term. Defra intends to consult on more details of the policy in early 2024.