Consultation on UK REACH

Page 1 of 19

Closes 25 Jul 2024


Following the UK’s exit from the EU, the UK implemented its own independent chemicals management framework, including UK REACH.[1] UK REACH is one of the main pieces of legislation overseeing chemical manufacture, supply and use in Great Britain. Under the terms of the Windsor Framework,[2] Northern Ireland continues to apply EU REACH[3]  in order to preserve its unique dual market access to both the EU market and the UK internal markert.

In accordance with the EU (Withdrawal) Act of 2018,[4] UK REACH retains the fundamental approach and key principles of the EU REACH regulation. It upholds the objectives of ensuring high levels of protection for both human health and the environment. 

Both EU REACH and UK REACH operate on the basis of ‘no data, no market’. UK REACH mandates that information (data) concerning substances manufactured in or imported into Great Britain at a level of at least 1 tonne per annum must be compiled into a dossier and submitted (registered) to the HSE, which acts as the regulatory agency for UK REACH. The data include the identity and physicochemical characteristics of each substance, together with information about their hazards, their uses and the exposures that can occur to people and the environment. Risk assessments are also included to help registrants identify appropriate risk management measures for themselves and other users down the supply chain. All of this information is available for use by the HSE and EA for regulatory purposes.    


To facilitate the shift to UK REACH, businesses were afforded a transitional period to submit their data.[5] However, as detailed in the UK Government’s impact assessment, which was published in 2023,[6] the estimated cost to industry associated with buying or accessing EU hazard data (which would have been needed to complete the registrations of transitional substances) was ~£2 billion[7] by 2030. 

This cost has led to concerns that companies may choose not to register their chemical substances under UK REACH. This could in turn lead to fewer substances being available on the Great Britain market, resulting in supply chain problems in some sectors and UK industries becoming less competitive. The UK Government therefore announced in December 2021 its intention to explore an ATRm.  

Defra, HSE, and the EA have developed a model within the framework of UK REACH that would use the powers of the Environment Act 2021, to ensure high levels of protections for human health and the environment, while reducing the costs of registration to industry. 

In parallel to the work we have been undertaking on the ATRm, Defra, HSE and EA, in cooperation with the Devolved Aminstrations in Scotland and Wales, have reflected on the experience of operating UK REACH. In doing so, we have identified initial potential efficiencies which could improve the UK REACH restrictions and reporting processes and make these processes more appropriate for operation in Great Britain. In considering other ways we could improve UK REACH, we are also proposing options to further protections against unnecessary animal testing, through reinforcing the last resort principle, the details of which can be found in Part Three. We also intend to use Environment Act 2021 powers to enact these UK REACH Improvement policy proposals.  


The purpose of this consultation is to seek stakeholders’ views on the government’s proposals and policy options on the UK REACH ATRm, which will apply to UK REACH registrants of transitional substances.[8] We are also seeking stakeholder views on initial UK REACH Improvements, which include proposals on both the UK REACH restrictions and reporting processes and furthering protections against unnecessary animal testing.


[1] Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals


[3] (Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH)).

[4] European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (

[5] Article 127(B) of the REACH etc. (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.


[7] This estimate carries a high degree of uncertainty (within the range £1.3bn - £3.5bn), as it is driven by the actual behaviour of companies in practice.

[8] Grandfathered, Downstream User notifications and New Registrations of Existing Substances.