Environment Minister, Phil Hogan has signed new regulations governing installations and activities using organic solvents that are certified by local authorities, such as vehicle refinishers and dry cleaners, for the purpose of preventing or limiting emissions of volatile organic compounds.
The new regulations revoke and replace the previous ‘Solvents Regulations’ (S.I. No 543 of 2002) and ‘Decorative Paints Regulations’ (S.I. No. 199 of 2007).
The regulations will be made available on the Department’s website at the link below:-
The new regulations were drafted following a consultation process with key stakeholders, including the EPA, local authorities, SIMI and the vehicle refinishing industry. The regulations introduce a number of improvements to address issues raised by stakeholders, particularly in relation to the provisions for the inspection of installations, limited availability of accredited inspection bodies and the duration of certificates.
- There is no longer be a requirement for approved assessors undertaking inspections (formerly known as ‘Accredited Inspection Contractors’) to be accredited with the Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB).
- The EPA will appoint an interim assessor for the purpose of verifying compliance with the new regulations for a period of up to 9 months.
- The EPA will then appoint a national panel of approved assessors before 30 Sept 2013 following a competitive evaluation process. This panel will then be reviewed at least every 3 years.
- Local authorities can now issue certificates of compliance for 3 years rather than the previous 1 year period for solvents installations or 2 year period for vehicle refinishers.
- Local authorities have discretion to issue certificates of a shorter duration where appropriate. The maximum 3 year period will be recommended only for those operators who have an established track record of regulatory compliance. Certificates may also be issued subject to specified conditions.
- Certificates issued under the previous regulations that were valid on 31 Dec 2012 may be renewed by a local authority to be valid until 30 Sept 2016. For example, if a current certificate is due to expire on 30 April 2013 and the operator applies for renewal before this date then the renewed certificate can be extended to expire on 30 September 2016.
- The first time application fee payable by operators to their local authority has increased from €50 to €70. The application fee for renewing a certificate remains unchanged at €50. Where an operator does not renew their certificate of compliance prior to the expiry date they must apply for a new certificate.
- Specific provision is included in the regulations for a local authority to revoke a certificate of compliance where they have reasonable grounds to do so.
- The regulations oblige local authorities to list certified operators on their website.
- Operators are required to submit information annually to their local authority to report on their compliance with the regulations.
- Authorised persons have the power to seize prohibited paints, varnishes and vehicle refinishing products and the cost for disposal of such products can be charged to the person or body from whom they were seized.
- The regulations provide for authorised persons to enter premises with the assistance of the Garda Siochana where necessary.
- The fine for uncertified operators has been increased from €3,000 to €5,000 and fines may be made payable to the local authority.
Removing the requirement for accredited inspections will allow for increased competition among inspection bodies, the Department says.
The EPA will shortly announce the appointment of the interim approved assessor pending the establishment of the national panel of approved assessors later in the year. Operators are obliged to continue to hold up-to-date certification during the interim period. It is an offence to operate an installation without up-to-date certification and local authorities will be encouraged to take appropriate enforcement action against uncertified operators.
Certificates with a shorter duration than three years, at least backdated to the expiry date of the previous certificate, can be issued to operators who have allowed their certificates to lapse.
The EPA will prepare updated guidance for operators to assist in the implementation of the new regulations.