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Home » UK pushes for pragmatic approach to F-gas – Part 1

UK pushes for pragmatic approach to F-gas – Part 1

Leading UK experts have accused the EU of being ‘blinkered’ by ambition in their F-gas revision proposals, pushing for the UK to take a more pragmatic approach. This is Part 1 of a two-part article.

UK experts have accused the EU of being ‘blinkered’ by ambition in their F-gas revision proposals.Photo by RAC
UK experts have accused the EU of being ‘blinkered’ by ambition in their F-gas revision proposals.Photo by RAC

Speaking at a recent RAC magazine F-Gas Question Time, Graeme Fox, current IoR president, director of technical at BESA and head of F-gas certification body REFCOM, accused the European Commission of a lack of joined up thinking and the European Parliament of being blinkered by ambition and having an unwillingness to actually discuss the practical implications of their proposals.

Based upon modelling of the EU market, co-speaker Ray Gluckman admitted that the European phase down proposals were going to be incredibly challenging. “I’m quite concerned about the first eight to ten years,” he said.

Echoing the concerns of their counterparts in Europe, the speakers’ concerns encompassed many aspects of the F-gas proposals. In addition to the proposed phase down timetables, concerns were expressed over the drive for an early ban on all HFCs and HFOs, the lack of training on flammable refrigerants, future servicing of existing equipment, the potential detrimental effects of the proposals on energy efficiency and the possibility that the proposals will prevent Europe from achieving its heat pump installation targets.

Between them, Gluckman and Fox have a knowledge of all things F-gas that is probably unmatched anywhere else in Europe. Ray Gluckman is a highly experienced consultant who has worked on F-gas related projects for 30 years, advising the UK Government, the European Commission, the United Nations and the World Bank. In addition to his current roles, Graeme Fox has spent 18 years as a director of European contractors’ group AREA, four of them as its president, liaising with UK and European authorities dating back to the very first F-gas negotiations 20 years ago.

While the current European F-gas regulation (517/2014) was transferred into UK law post Brexit, Great Britain now has the opportunity to diverge from the European regulations. The UK industry is pressing ministers to take a more pragmatic approach to its own F-gas revision proposals.

By the same token, there are benefits to some degree of harmonisation between the UK and European regulations, particularly with regard to the position of Northern Ireland, and the UK does have its own ambitious climate change targets.


Referring to the UK government’s revision of the regulation, Fox said: “We’re now looking at effectively a new regulation and it does give us that that opportunity to diverge where it actually suits the UK.

“I’ve been pretty vocal over the years since F-gas came in that there are certain aspects of the regulation which have, frankly, never worked for the UK,” he said, referring to, for instance, the lack of a register of operatives.

Accepting that from an the point of view of the industry, manufacturers and gas suppliers, divergence from the European regulation was not the preferred option, he said: “However, when we know a regulation just simply isn’t working, then actually diverging from that regulation and those elements obviously clearly makes sense.”

Ray Gluckman agreed that there were benefits in harmonisation, but noted that DEFRA, the UK department responsible, had recognised important differences between the UK markets and the overall EU market. “So, it’s possible that there will be different rules,” he said.

“It’s been actually quite heartening to have a more pragmatic approach by the UK government and DEFRA are actually listening and they’re having proper grown-up conversations about it,” Fox added.

Of particular concern is the perceived rush to flammable A3 refrigerants. “Technically we can change over to hydrocarbons on all these systems in many, many cases, but just because something is technically feasible from a manufacturing point of view, doesn’t mean that you can actually apply that in practice in many places in the real world,” Fox said.

Recalling his days as a contractor, Fox added: “We had massive problems with some of the sites I worked on. I did a lot of MoD work. I did a lot of airport work and train stations. All of these places have very strict bans on the use of anything flammable so that you have massive problems with actually applying flow refrigerants in some of these locations.”

Continued in Part 2…