REFCOM is to be the UK’s mandatory F-Gas company certification body for the stationary refrigeration and air-conditioning (SRAC) sector, to allow businesses to comply with European Commission F-Gas Regulation No 842/2006. Formal appointment by the Secretary of State is expected in the next two weeks.
REFCOM, the register of companies competent to handle refrigerants in the UK, will be the only government-approved body through which SRAC businesses can legally demonstrate competent, safe handling of Fluorinated Gases. The UK legislation – The Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases (FGG) Regulations 2009 – comes into force on 9 March 2009, but businesses will have until 4 July 2009 to achieve at least interim certification, and full certification by July 2011. By the July 2009 deadline, any business in the UK SRAC sector not registered with REFCOM will be committing an offence (under regulation 23(1) of the 2009 Regulations) and will be subject to local authority enforcement measures and/or fines.
REFCOM’s Chief Executive, Bruce Kirton, said: “REFCOM’s appointment as the mandatory F-Gas certification body recognises the good work that the scheme, and in particular HVCA and ACRIB, have been doing since 1994. But whereas membership of the REFCOM scheme was previously voluntary, now it is a legal requirement and 4 July will soon be here. It is not just the law that will demand it – customers and equipment and gas suppliers will expect it too.”
The appointment was made after an extensive consultation process in 2008 by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The consultation report published in February 2009 by Defra revealed the strongest arguments in favour of REFCOM as the certification body were cost and expertise.
According to the consultation report, 65 out of 67 respondents recommended REFCOM to act as the company certification body providing interim and full certification.
The report also said that in initial proposals, REFCOM had indicated that it ‘would be ready to start issuing interim and full certificates as soon as the FGG Regulations 2009 entered into force in March as they already have the systems and procedures in place’.
The original REFCOM scheme was established by HVCA in 1994 to promote the safe handling of ozone-depleting refrigerant gases. Since then the scheme has evolved to cover F-gases. Now REFCOM can use its expertise to assist businesses in the SRAC sector to become certificated before the July deadline with a low-cost and easy-to-apply solution. By July 2009, REFCOM certificated companies will come with a reassurance that commercial customers, and equipment and gas suppliers can not only rely upon, but come to expect.