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Million Pound Fine for Breaching F-Gas Regulations Handed to London Firm

Million Pound Fine for Breaching F-Gas Regulations Handed to London Firm
28 September 2021
 

London-based firm IMO Gas Supplies Ltd has been found guilty of seven separate offences all linked to breaches of regulation 31A of the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations.

Over a two-year period, the company is reported as using refrigerants R134A, R404A, R410A and R407C, which are all subject to restrictions under the F-Gas Regulations.

It was given five separate fines of £200,000 each for failing to ensure that the number of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) it was using did not exceed its F-Gas quota. It also received a £10,000 fine for failing to sufficiently report imports of HFCs to the European Commission and a £1,500 penalty for not keeping proper records.

This is the second prosecution of its kind, after Schneider Electric Ltd was fined £3,000 in 2016 for failing to recover SF6 gas that was released to the air at Stanford-le-Hope, Essex in 2013. 

 

What is the F-Gas Regulation?

 

The F-Gas Regulation is a legislative act adopted by the European Union, to control emissions from fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases), including hydrofluorocarbons.

The regulation seeks to limit the number of F-Gases that can be sold, with a view to phasing them out by 2030. It also bans the use of F-Gases in many new types of equipment where less harmful alternatives are widely available, such as fridges in homes or supermarkets, air conditioning and foams and aerosols.

Thanks to these regulations, EU’s F-Gas emissions will be cut by two-thirds by 2030 compared with 2014 levels.

 

REFCOM Welcomes Ruling

 

The UK’s primary F-Gas register REFCOM has welcomed the Environment Agency’s decision:

“This is precisely the kind of tough action we have been urging from the Environment Agency,” said REFCOM’s Head of Technical Graeme Fox.

“It is the direct result of a tip-off from a REFCOM member who had become exasperated by this kind of irresponsible behaviour that gives the whole sector a bad name.

“This is only the second fine issued to an F-Gas offender, but it is a huge statement of intent from the EA. However, we know this is not an isolated incident and the battle goes on against rogue traders who seem bent on flouting this vital environmental law for financial gain.”

REFCOM was originally set up in 1996 by a group of contractors who wanted to demonstrate their commitment to high professional standards and responsible refrigerant handling.  It became the country’s mandatory register in 2009 when the UK adopted the European F-Gas Regulation. The UK continues to ‘mirror’ the Regulation despite its departure from the EU.

 

Members "Frustrated" at Lack of F-Gas Regulations Enforcement


REFCOM said its members had been frustrated by the apparent lack of enforcement of the F-Gas Regulations which puts them at a commercial disadvantage because unregistered firms were getting away with not investing in training and the systems needed to keep track of their gas usage:

“We have been telling the authorities about the need for visible policing for years and, hopefully, other offenders will take note and mend their ways,” said Graeme.

“We are delighted to see an example being made of this company and hope this will make others think again about putting the quality of services and products at risk, endangering lives and property, and undermining the UK’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

REFCOM said it was also closely monitoring the use of illegally imported refrigerant gas in the UK.

“The continued use of illegal refrigerants by unscrupulous contractors is a very serious problem,” said Graeme. “Not only do they damage the environment and atmosphere but are an extreme danger to life and property.

“This is another area where the authorities need to raise their game because there are still far too many ‘cowboy operators’ using illegal products that they buy online,” he said.

“REFCOM members are audited to ensure safety and legal compliance so they are rightly sick of being undercut by uncertified firms using dangerous practices and dodgy products.”

Picture: a photograph of a judge's gavel

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 28 September 2021

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