Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Correspondence from the Global Atmosphere Division, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions to Dixons Group plc, 5 January 2001

EC Regulation 2037/2000

  Thank you for you letter of 5 December. I am sorry that you have not had a reply before now, but I have been out of the office for much of December at the Montreal Protocol meeting in Ouagadougou in West Africa.

  I am disappointed that you have not recognised the steps Government departments have taken to lessen the impact of Regulation 2037/2000 on the trade in second hand fridges. As soon as the implications of the full effect of the export ban in Article 11 had been realised we called a meeting with the trade, at which Dixons was represented by Vivien Williams. This meeting resulted in a series of very unusual steps: Customs and Excise supported by DETR and DTI, agreed not to prevent exports until we had been able to consider the matter more fully within Government. We decided to continue this approach until 8 January under the old control regime to give the trade time to adjust; from that date fridges will have to be de-gassed before export, but exports will be allowed to continue despite the CFCs remaining in the foam. All of these measures are pragmatic responses to the concerns of the trade and we continue to explore avenues available to us to try and ameliorate the effects for the Regulation on this trade.

  We took these steps because we realised our consultation process on the Regulation had missed the trade, despite including both the refrigeration and white goods trade associations. We have sympathy with the many small businesses who are not always able to follow changes in legislation and, in this case, appear not to be members of trade associations. Unfortunately neither business nor Government seems to have appreciated the implications of this part of the Regulation.

  Regulation 2037/2000 (Article 16) also requires Member States to recover (and, in the case of CFCs, destroy) controlled substances in domestic refrigerators from 31 December 2001. The UK is required to report to the European Commission by that date on the facilities available for the recovery of controlled substances.

  We are urgently looking at the best way to implement the requirements of EC Regulation 2037/2000. You can be assured that we are now fully aware of the extent of the trade. We will continue to keep the trade informed of any changes to the way in which the Regulation is to be implemented.

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