Examination of Witnesses (Questions 260
TUESDAY 26 MARCH 2002
260. Between them, however, these two departments
could be expected to have knowledge of both the extent of the
export trade and the technical issues about foam?
(Dr Batchelor) Yes, sir.
261. You have described what appeared to be
a sudden realisation from these two organisations.
(Dr Batchelor) Yes. We would expect them to be knowledgeable
of both of those areas that we talked about.
262. Was there ever a feeling, and it would
be difficult, perhaps, to answer this, that what the UK contingent
was looking for was a way around this regulation?
(Dr Batchelor) I think, Mr Chairman, if you become
aware of the significant factsthe volume of the trade combined
with the lack of knowledge of the volume in the foamthen
you may adopt a strategy that would try to discuss the semantics
of the regulation in the hope that that might undermine that part
of its compliance and, therefore, take you on a track that might
absolve you of those difficulties that you are facing. However,
I am not part of the UK team. I cannot say that this was their
strategy, but this would appear to be the case from our perspective,
looking towards the UK's wording.
263. Thank you for a very diplomatic answer
to the question. By this crucial meeting of 11/12 June, it looks
as if at that date at last the UK said "Fair enough, we realise
this is the situation, we now accept the same interpretation as
everybody else." Were they convinced by the force of argument?
What brought about the change of heart, do you think? The same
issues had been gone over, as far as I can tell, again and again
in these meetings for several months.
(Dr Batchelor) In answer to your question, I do not
know what brought the change about.
Mr Lepper: You could not be expected to.
264. Can I be clear: both in the recitals of
this regulation and, particularly, Articles 1 and 2, where definitions
abound in what it affects, it struck me, looking at it, that the
message that comes through is that this is designed to stop CFCs,
wherever they occur within the types of equipment and situation
covered by this regulation, escaping into the atmosphere. If you
were going to start to take part in negotiation on this particular
matter, would you have thought that that basic piece of knowledge
was an important one to have had if you were going to renegotiatefor
any Member Statein knowing what this was about?
(Dr Batchelor) Mr Chairman, do you mean what this
was about in terms of CFCs being released into the atmosphere?
265. Exactly that point.
(Dr Batchelor) Yes. In fact, the negotiation team
in DEFRA has always been very concerned with minimising any releases
to the atmosphere. The track that was taken in these arguments
here, I would have to admit, are not consistent with that effort
that has been put in in the past.
Chairman: I asked you a moment ago if you would
be kind enough to identify in the more detailed annexes which
bits refer to foam; could I ask for the same to be done in relation
to Articles 1 and 2? I am anxious to knowas normally documents
are read from the front to the backat what point somebody
reading this thing for the first time might have come across words
which could have suggested to them that it was the totality of
CFCs within a refrigerator that might be covered by this? The
line of questioning up to now has centred on, "Could it in
the real world actually be done?", but the early part of
the Regulation defines the territory over which you want to try
and cover and ensure that CFCs do not get released into the atmosphere,
so perhaps we could have a little clarification. That would be
266. In respect of when UK officials started
to question some of the details, as you have outlined and no doubt
we will go over some of that quite a bit more in the weeks ahead,
is it not the case that across the EU, irrespective of what has
been said by British officials, the Regulation is being implemented
but to different standards and indeed in some places not being
implemented? Is that not the case? You mentioned, one of you,
I think, Dr Batchelor mentioned that eight Member States are significantly
recycling CFCs from fridges. What does "significantly"
mean, which countries and what is actually happening in the others?
(Dr Batchelor) We can give you a summary, sir, of
the progress there. We know that there are commercial facilities
that extract CFCs from the compressor and the foam that are now
operating in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the
Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. We have, as I have mentioned before,
just done a survey report and based on the survey reporting for
the past three years more than 12,000 refrigeration units have
been processed annually in Luxembourg, more than 200,000 units
annually in Austria and Denmark, more than 300,000 refrigeration
units per year in Sweden, more than 500,000 refrigeration units
per year in the Netherlands, more than one million refrigeration
units per year in Italy and more than two million refrigeration
units per year in Germany. These are the figures that we have
267. What sort of percentage or proportion of
the market in those countries are those actual numbers? Are they
what you would describe as significantly high percentages?
(Dr Batchelor) We have not done that analysis to look
at what proportion that is, although I would say that the Member
States are due to report on their compliance with this part of
the Regulation. They were due to report on 31 December 2001, so
we would expect those reports coming in very shortly and it would
be extremely useful if they mentioned the level of recycling that
was taking care of the market in total. In stating the number
of countries that are recycling, I have to say that we have yet
to receive reports from four Member States and we are still waiting
on those reports.
268. Is one of them the United Kingdom?
(Dr Batchelor) No, in fact the United Kingdom is in
compliance and I think that it is very important, Mr Chairman,
to note this, that since the United Kingdom has halted their export
of refrigerators and since they are storing these refrigerators
pending the recovery and destruction equipment coming on stream,
then that puts the UK totally in compliance with this part of
the Regulation and this issue. As Mr Jones said, it raises other
issues that are more complicated, but it solves that part of the
269. Just out of interest, Mr Jones told us
that not all of the refrigerators in these stored States are in
the condition which would contain the CFCs. How do you view those
who are a bit sort of dodgy around the margins of this?
(Dr Batchelor) Well, we were concerned to hear that,
quite frankly. The Regulation clearly states that the CFCs, indeed
the ozone-depleting substances that are contained in these refrigerators
must be recovered and if they are being stored in such a way that
does not promote their recovery, this would be contrary to the
270. One of the follow-up questions about where
does the UK sit in that analysis of what all the EU Member States
are doing, you have mentioned one of the aspects of the UK's performance
in terms of compliance, but what is your assessment at this point
in time of where the UK sits?
(Dr Batchelor) With respect to this refrigeration?
271. The whole issue.
(Dr Batchelor) The whole issue is that I cannot help
but review the record and see that there are eight Member States
that are already up and running and well into the recovery and
destruction of the CFCs. We would have to regard the UK as in
the starting blocks and ready to go.
272. Would it be your view that all of the Member
States, all of them whether they had the technology in place at
one point or not, have had enough lead time to introduce it?
(Dr Batchelor) Yes, yes, they have. If we go back
to the political decision being made in December 1998, the common
position having been developed in February 1999, that is, from
February 1999 until January 2002, it is a significant amount of
time in which to put into place these facilities.
273. Do you know if there is any Member State
who is not in compliance and has just ignored the Directive?
(Dr Batchelor) We do. At least we suspect that there
might be some Member States who are not in compliance. We know
that there is a meeting tomorrow within the European Environment
Committee looking at the implementation of environmental law.
One of the topics on the agenda is specifically compliance with
the legislation on ozone-depleting substances. This meeting tomorrow
will look at the Regulation in two areas: firstly, are Member
States complying with a ban on the export of domestic refrigerators;
and, secondly, have they in place recovery and destruction facilities
for the CFCs? We will be following up very carefully on the implementation
of the Regulation with all Member States and as with other non-compliance
cases, we will be pursuing this in the courts when all other courses
of action have failed.
274. We have had that situation with British
beef and the French. Of course the action could possibly have
been that a Member State is actually getting the equipment in
to deal with the problem, but in the meantime ignoring your Directive.
(Dr Batchelor) On the contrary, sir. The fact that
the UK is storing fridges in preparation for the recovery and
recycling puts them totally in compliance.
275. What I was suggesting is that perhaps there
may be some other countries that are ignoring your Directive for
the time being until they get the infrastructure up and running
to be able to deal with it. I suspect that may have been an option
for the British Government and they did not take that option.
Can I come back though to the ban on the export of fridges. Obviously
most of these went to Africa and in the UK's case most of them
went to West Africa. You have stopped that supply totally. Does
that not seem a bit harsh when even Greenpeace on balance thought
that this export trade should continue? What we are doing as rich
countries is saying that we are depriving African countries of
these fridges. Did one department in the EU not talk to another
(Dr Batchelor) Yes, sir. In fact both DEFRA and DTI
explained the humanitarian basis of this trade very clearly to
us and we are, of course, understanding of this view to assist
others that are not as well-developed as ourselves. However, there
is another issue and another side to this. Under the Montreal
Protocol, which is an international treaty that controls ozone-depleting
substances, the developing countries have signed to a 2010 phase-out
for CFCs. One view is that if you export fridges that contain
CFCs to these countries one increases the dependency of those
countries on a chemical that is being phased out. That is the
first view. In fact, Mr T½pfer, who is the Chief Executive
Officer for UNEP, quite recently has stated that many of those
276. Can you tell us what UNEP is?
(Dr Batchelor) It is the United Nations Environment
Programme. They are based in Nairobi in Kenya. He has stated very
clearly that shipping discarded refrigerators to developing countries
is no longer required and not necessary for many of those countries
and should be discouraged. I think it is on this basis that the
regulation was actually developed in the first place, and I think
the European Council took the view that it was better to not increase
the dependency of these countries on this technology. We can,
of course, ship refrigerators to those countries that do not depend
on this technology, and there are examples now of these fridges
that are non-ODS being built all round the world. One of the lead
countries for this is China, one of the largest developing countries,
which is now producing fridges that do not rely at all on any
277. It is always a question of whether the
individuals in these countries can actually afford to buy them.
Can we go on to a point that was made at a previous meeting? One
of the arguments against providing this new equipment is that
once we have got rid of CFCs they will not be required. Do you
think that the new fridges will need to be disposed of in this
(Dr Batchelor) Yes, sir. Prior to 1994 nearly all
of the fridges that were made used CFCs. After this date they
transitioned on to other substancesfor example, HCFCsand
these have one-tenth of the ozone-depleting potential of CFCs.
So they are, if you like, 90 per cent less damaging to the ozone
layer. However, they are transitional substances and there are
other substances now that are coming on-stream, such as hydrocarbons,
that have no ozone-depleting potential at all. In the meantime
the facilities that are being constructed now will have use for
many years in destroying fridges that contain HCFCs because eventually
the production of HCFCs will stop, the manufacturers will no longer
have that material available for fridges, there will be a ban
on filling up HCFC fridges and you will need to recover the HCFCs
from those fridges. The investment in recycling facilities is,
in the short term, needed for the CFCs in the refrigerators here,
but in the longer term it can be used for all ozone-depleting
substances. I might also add that some of the refrigerators are
being made with gases that have climate change potential in them.
Therefore, there is a need to also prevent those gases getting
into the atmosphere. So we can actually see, if you like, those
facilities performing a dual role for both the Kyoto Protocol
and the Montreal Protocol.
278. Was the Fridge Directive a one-off or are
we going to have other directives where we are going to be sitting
round in this room asking why the UK did not deal with it in a
proper way? Can you see other problems coming in the medium and
(Mrs Wenning) There will undoubtedly be other directives
and other regulations. We continue, in relation to the specific
regulation, to discuss with the Member States any points that
seem to be unclear. I think we are trying to identify those points.
We are not saying that it is an easy regulation, but we feel that
in this process, in this intense discussion with the Member States,
we will be able to resolve any possible forthcoming interpretation
differences, and in that way I think we will have to work further
on this regulation. That is something which will not finish now,
there are too many important issues in that regulation that need
implementing and that need discussion between the Commission and
the Member States.
279. Is there anything different in the way
the UK approaches the negotiations in regard to these directives
in comparison with other EU states?
(Dr Batchelor) If I was to be totally honest here,
I would say the UK is very pro-active in these debatesvery
pro-active. I think a lot of the other Member States actually
look towards the UK for views on some of these aspects that are
coming forward. That is my view, just watching the UK perform
in these areas, and DEFRA in this instance has performed a very
strong lead role in those negotiations.