BCAS: GB/UK legislation update

27 November 2023

AS THE UK continues to 'move away' from EU membership the landscape is starting to become clearer and the true impact on British industry is impossible to ignore. Double compliance and tracking of both EU and UK regulations and legislation is now a reality.

The announcement on the 1 August this year to extend recognition of CE Marking indefinitely has given some relief and raised many new questions surrounding continuity of supply of goods to the GB Market.

There is an important distinction, here, as 'UK' includes Northern Ireland, where there is still some uncertainty regarding the future direction of goods compliance.  The Windsor Framework and Stormont Brake enable the NI Assembly to temporarily stop any changes to EU goods regulations from applying in NI if the Assembly fears that the changes would have “significant and lasting effects on everyday lives”. 

In addition, the reality of 'passive divergence', where EU regulations are reviewed, developed, adapted and updated by the long-established EU legislative machine, while the UK equivalent has its own timeline and agenda is creating a scenario where there are several differences - so we do still have challenges ahead. 

Seeing that the EU regulation ‘machine’ has significant momentum to evolve regulations and legislation, we still would request that the UK Government works towards some form of permanent mutual recognition to the European compliance activities and allow goods to move freely into the GB market.

Machinery Regulation

One such example of this kind of divergence is the recently (29 June 2023) published Machinery Regulation (EU 2023/1230), which replaces the long standing Machinery Directive (2006/42/EC). This sets out to update the 2006 regulation by including concepts such as paperless supply (except for basic safety information for non-professional users). This could allow documentation to be accessed digitally via a QR code or machine-learning (AI), (particularly where the learning techniques ensure safety functions). 

It also sees a change in the legal status as a regulation doesn’t require transposition into local national law, as directives do. This falls into line with the New Legislative Framework (NLF) which sets out the main rules for market surveillance and conformity assessment bodies. 

Meanwhile, the UK equivalent, the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008, which was transposed from the EU Machinery Directive, remains on the UK statute. Although the UK is reviewing product labelling there does not seem to be the required urgency to align or at least have a full-scale review of the new EU Regulation.

Add to this the likelihood of UK based 'Authorised Bodies' having insufficient resource and manpower to actively manage assessment requirements of the diverged legislation and the complexity of the legislation itself, the landscape for UKCA is far from clear.

UK specific work

The UK Product Safety Review consultation has been launched with a three-month window to submit responses (by 24 October 2023). The stated objectives are to ensure that regulation on product safety is fit for the future, especially given the significant rise of online sales in recent years. Details can be found at and the 2021 Government response:

BCAS is of course consulting with members to generate an industry wide, consensus view, whilst also encouraging our members to submit their own responses.

UK Government plans to develop a policy for Energy Requiring Products (ErP), which is a replication of the EU Ecodesign Regulation, are still in development. 
BCAS remains close to the UK governmental team and is working to ensure that the voice of our industry is heard. The society seeks to direct the focus of the consultation toward a system-based approach, rather than focussing on the regulation of products (which, in most cases, are already highly optimised to deliver the best efficiency possible).

Energy Technology List

The Energy Technology List (ETL), which is a government list of energy efficient plant and machinery, has seen the recent addition of compressed air dryer products (refrigerated and desiccant). Compressor manufacturers are currently assessing the possibility of adding air compressors to the scheme. 

Ultimately BCAS’s focus is directed toward establishing the new data sheet and verification programme, which should provide those purchasing new equipment with greater visibility and a more reliable and robust metric to compare the energy efficiency of air compressor packages.

A glimmer of light on the harmonised standards front

The DBT (Department for Business and Trade) says: “The Government has put in place procedures to assess if a new or amended European harmonised standard, developed by the non-EU bodies CEN and CENELEC and put forward by the British Standards Institution (BSI), meets the GB essential requirements of the relevant legislation and is suitable for the purpose of providing a presumption of conformity.”  [CEN and CENELEC are European standards bodies based in Brussels. They are independent of the European Commission, albeit much of its work is related to the EU.  BSI is a member of CEN and CENELEC.]    

“Both users of designated standards and interested parties can consult the website for the latest list of standards for the sector and associated regulations."

BCAS understands that the guidance pages are being updated to accurately reflect the changes announced on 1st August – this is the level of proactivity industry will require to ensure clarity when placing goods on the UK market

With all this activity ongoing it is more important than ever that you remain in touch with the proposed changes and have your say on what could be our new legislative landscape. 

As the independent trade association for the compressed air and vacuum industry, BCAS can provide the most accurate source of information alongside technical experts to enable specific industry queries to be answered.

Tim Preece is technical officer at the British Compressed Air Society

Tel: 0207 935 2464