Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depleting Substances

Legislation on fluorinated greenhouse gases (“F-gases”) and Ozone Depleting Substances (“ODS”) helps to limit Northern Ireland’s gaseous emissions and enables us to play our part in minimising the effects of global warming and ozone layer eradication.

Latest news - upcoming 2020 ban on certain types of refrigerants containing F-gases

For further information, please see the summary below (heading - "Upcoming 2020 ban on certain types of refrigerants containing F-gases") or the more detailed leaflet on the specially created page of the DAERA web-site.

What are Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases (“F-gases”)?

Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases (“F-gases”) include:

  • hydrofluorocarbons (“HFCs”)
  • perfluorocarbons (“PFCs”) 
  • sulphur hexafluoride (“SF6”)

Who uses them?

F-gases are used in several sectors of industry in NI, including:

  • refrigeration (both stationary and mobile)
  • air conditioning (both stationary and mobile)
  • fire equipment
  • aerosols
  • heat pumps
  • high-voltage switchgear

Legislation on F-gases introduces legal requirements for people in NI working with F-gases in these areas of business.

Effects of F-gas emissions

F-gases have a very high Greenhouse Warming Potential (“GWP”), much higher than carbon dioxide, and contribute to rising global temperatures.

EU legislation therefore requires that the use of F-gases is restricted and monitored. Laws on F-gases have therefore been compiled for NI.

Upcoming 2020 ban on certain types of refrigerants containing F-gases

A ban is coming into operation in NI on 1st January 2020 that will prohibit certain types of refrigerants with a GWP greater than 2500 being used to service or refill refrigeration or freezer systems in NI.

This ban will apply to many commonly used refrigeration or freezer systems by many businesses in NI. It applies to HFCs in, amongst others:

  • small hermetically sealed systems,
  • condensing units, and
  • central pack systems.

Enforcement notices and possible fines will be able to be applied after 1st January 2020 by enforcing authorities in NI for potential breach of the ban.

Steps that potentially affected businesses could take include:

  • using reclaimed HFC refrigerants,
  • using recycled HFC refrigerants that have been recycled either from your own equipment, or by the company servicing the equipment, or
  • switching to low GWP refrigerants that are not covered by the 2020 service ban.

For further details, including a leaflet with a full description of the ban and steps to take, please see the specially dedicated page of the DAERA web-site on this upcoming 2020 ban on certain types of refrigerants containing F-gases.

Laws on F-gases

2015 F-gas Regulations

A number of provisions are introduced by the 2015 Northern Ireland Regulations on F-gases to ensure that stakeholders working with F-gases in industry can carry out their roles with only limited leakage of F-gases into the atmosphere.

Provisions of the 2015 Northern Ireland Regulations on F-gases include requirements for:

  • all users to ensure that F-gases are not intentionally released in to the atmosphere
  • individuals and companies to be qualified for work with F-gases
  • companies to record and report to the EU on their use of F-gases (large scale use only)
  • the labelling of products containing F-gases
  • leakage checks and repairs for large products containing F-gases, including during production and transportation of products
  • placing F-gases on the market
  • using F-gases within quantities laid out in quotas
  • recovery of F-gases after use of the product
  • restrictions on the use of F-gases for some types of industrial processes
  • all users of F-gases to co-operate with regulators during inspections

Warning notices and fines can be imposed for failure to comply with these 2015 Northern Ireland Regulations on F-gases.

2018 F-gas Amendment Regulations

The 2018 F-gas Amendment Regulations came into operation on 17th January 2019. These introduced a number of new provisions on F-gases, including the following requirements for businesses using F-gases:

  1. provisions to list certification, evaluation and attestation bodies ("CEAs") for certificates to work legally with F-gases on easily updated web-sites, instead of in legislation - these web-sites are as follows:
    CEAs for individuals, and
    CEAs for companies.
  2. changes to the business activities for which certification for work with F-gases from a CEA is required (this varies by sector and should be checked with the Air and Environmental Quality Unit if you have any queries);
  3. changes to the type of business for which certification for work with F-gases from a CEA is required, to now include refrigerated lorries and trailers;
  4. updates to the offences on the labelling of products containing F-gases;
  5. the inclusion of work with refrigeration units of refrigerated trucks and trailers in F-gas offences; and
  6. a requirement for businesses transferring F-gas work to another business to ensure that the second business has the appropriate certification to work legally with F-gases.

The synopsis of consultee responses to the consultation shows stakeholders' views during the (now finished) consultation period on the 2018 F-gas Amendment Regulations. 

General guidance documents and UK EU Exit documents and web-links

Specific guidance for businesses working with F-gases can be found on the Gluckman Consulting (specialists in refrigeration and climate change) information sheets.

In addition, guidance has been compiled by the UK government on how businesses can continue to trade and deal in F-gases and ODS in the UK and EU if there is no EU withdrawal deal before Exit Day.

In the event of no deal, new UK regulations, as specified in the UK government guidance in the link above, will apply from EU Exit Day (which is currently due to be 31st October 2019). These new regulations will transfer most of the requirements of the EU Regulations into UK law.

    Businesses will be able to register for F gas and ODS quota until two weeks after exit day (so this date is currently due to be 14th November 2019). This system will only be applicable in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

    If your business:

    • produces, imports, or exports bulk F gas or ODS, or
    • uses ODS, or
    • manufactures or imports equipment containing F-gas or ODS,

    please register for an F-gases account or for an ODS account.

    Once you have done this, you can do any of the following, as applicable to your business/organisation:

    Then your business will be able to:

    • use the system launched by the UK government to also transfer and authorise HFC (one of the F-gases) quota, 
    • apply for ODS import and export licenses, and
    • report on F gas and ODS activities.

    The UK government's web-page "Using and trading fluorinated gas and ozone-depleting substances: rules and processes if the UK leaves the EU with no deal" may also assist you, especially if you have queries on the import and export of F-gases and ODS after EU Exit day, the quota system, and reporting requirements for the use of F-gases and ODS.

    The general UK government tool contained on the "Prepare your business or organisation for the UK leaving the EU" page may also be of assistance to you and your business, especially if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

    Ozone Depleting Substances (“ODS”)

    The ozone layer is part of the earth’s upper atmosphere and protects all life from ultra-violet radiation. The Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987 to control and phase out chemicals which damage the ozone layer, referred to as Ozone Depleting Substances (“ODS”).

    What are Ozone Depleting Substances (“ODS”)?

    Types of ODS include:

    • chlorofluorocarbons (“CFCs”)
    • halons
    • carbon tetrachloride
    • 1,1,1-Trichloroethane (methyl chloroform)
    • Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)

    ODS – who uses them?

    Businesses in NI which use the following types of equipment are examples of users of ODS:

    • refrigeration systems
    • air-conditioning systems
    • heat pump equipment
    • fire protection equipment

    Laws on ODS

    A number of provisions are included in the 2011 Northern Ireland Regulations on ODS  and the 2011 Regulations on Qualifications for work with ODS in Northern Ireland

    These provisions ensure that stakeholders working with ODS in industry can carry out their roles with only limited leakage of ODS into the atmosphere.

    Provisions of the laws on ODS include requirements, offences and penalties concerning the following:

    • on production, placement on the market and use of ODS
    • placing the market of ODS in non-refillable containers
    • placing on the market of products and equipment containing or relying on ODS
    • labelling of containers containing ODS
    • record keeping by businesses
    • trade in ODS with a State not party to the Montreal Protocol and a territory not covered by that Protocol
    • requirements for specified stationary equipment or systems
    • recovery and destruction of used ODS
    • production, placing on the market, and use of certain new types of ODS
    • reporting by businesses to the EU on their use of ODS
    • providing information to the European Commission, as required
    • qualifications required by staff for work with equipment containing ODS

    The relevant EU legislation is the EC Regulation No 1005/2009 on substances that deplete the ozone layer.

    Further information

    If you would like any further information please contact:

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