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
- heat pumps
- high-voltage switchgear
Legislation on F-gases introduces legal requirements for people in Northern Ireland 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 Northern Ireland.
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 are due to come into operation on 17th January 2019. These will introduce a number of new provisions on F-gases, including the following requirements for businesses using F-gases:
- 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.
- 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);
- 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;
- updates to the offences on the labelling of products containing F-gases;
- the inclusion of work with refrigeration units of refrigerated trucks and trailers in F-gas offences; and
- 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.
Specific guidance for businesses working with F-gases can be found on the Gluckman Consulting (specialists in refrigeration and climate change) information sheets.
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”)
- 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.
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