Vehicle air-conditioning industry concerned about new regulation

Mobile air-conditioning refrigerant gas to be made available for purchase to the general public

A European trade organisation for the vehicle air-conditioning industry has said the sector is “gravely concerned” about the new regulations introduced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which state that unqualified individuals can top up their vehicle air-conditioning with the R134a refrigerant gas.

The F-Gas Regulation states that only those with the necessary qualifications are allowed to purchase F-gas refrigerants for use in mobile air-conditioning systems.

The Environment Agency (EA) also published a warning to retailers, wholesalers and technicians in June saying that the general public should only be sold the R134a refrigerant if they “could demonstrate that the person intending to install it held a qualification in refrigerant recovery”.

At the time, the EA said this was in compliance with European Commission regulations.

However, in October, Defra seemed to make a U-turn when it released a statement saying it saw a distinction between purchasing R134a refrigerant for a top-up and purchasing it for refrigerant recovery.

It said: “Defra believes that such restrictions do not apply for the servicing of MAC, only for the recovery of F-gases in such systems.”

MACpartners, the trade body for the MAC industry, said it would be consulting with Defra, the EA, and the European Commission, and that it would not be accepting the new stance taken by Defra.

A spokesperson for MACpartners commented further: “The Defra ruling certainly appears to be against the best interests of the professional auto repair industry, and could lead to negative consequences for the vehicle being ‘serviced’ and to the environmental issue of F-gas emissions not being followed.”

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