Decorative Paints Directive

Painting and decorating has been made easier with the development of many easy-to-use products.  Not only is there a vast array of products for different applications but also many come in a myriad of colours.  In order to reduce the risk to the user and the environment due to exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOC), the Directive on the Limitations of Emissions due to the use of organic solvents in certain Paints, Varnishes and Vehicle Refinishing Products, (Decorative Paints Directive) Directive 2004/42/EC, limits the VOC content of these widely used products.  The Directive was enacted into Irish law by the Limitation of Emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds due to the use of certain Paints, Varnishes and Vehicle Refinishing Products Regulations 2007 (Statutory Instrument 199 of 2007). This has been replaced by S.I. No. 564 of 2012 - European Union (Paints, Varnishes, Vehicle Refinishing Products and Activities) Regulations 2012.

Why reduce VOC emissions?

VOCs pose a risk to health and the environment.  In still, sunny conditions and in the presence of nitrogen oxides (contained in vehicle exhaust gases), VOCs react to form ground level ozone.  Ozone is one of the components of summer smog and harms human health through respiratory illness, crops and the general ecosystem.  Ozone can be transported over long distances, possibly hundreds of kilometres, from where it is formed. 

The Regulations 

European Union (Paints, Varnishes, Vehicle Refinishing Products and Activities) Regulations 2012 (S.I.No 564 of 2012) make it illegal for any uncertified operator to carry out an activity for which a certificate of compliance is required under these Regulations. Any such operators should arrange for an inspection immediately. Motor factors and paints suppliers should also note that it is an offence to place non-compliant vehicle refinishing products on the market.

Fixed Payment Notices 

On June 28 2016 Minister Coveney signed into law Statutory Instrument No. 348 of 2016, Air Pollution Act (Fixed Payment Notice)(Paints) Regulations 2016. This provides local authorities with powers to issue on-the-spot fines to non-compliant bodyshops and paint suppliers. This gives local authorities a new enforcement tool to use in the enforcement of these regulations and allows fines of between €500 and €1,000 to be imposed on non-compliant operators. Multiple fines can be imposed by local authorities on an operator until such time as they come into compliance with the requirements of the regulations. A copy of these new regulations is available here.

Panel of Approved Assessors

The revised regulations for vehicle refinishing activities required the EPA to set up a panel of approved assessors to replace the existing AIC inspection body system. These Approved Assessors will, from September 2013, be the inspection bodies for the purposes of carrying out inspections under the regulations.   The details of the panel of Approved Assessors are as follows:

Regulated operators must use an Approved Assessor for the purposes of getting their premises inspected, and as with the previous AIC system the operator should engage the services of an assessor and pay them directly.

Vehicle Refinishers

The EPA would also like to remind you of some of the new aspects of the regulations:

  • Local Authorities can now issue certificates of compliance for up to 3 years rather than the previous 2 year period. However, certificates of a shorter duration may be issued if a Local Authority has concerns about a specific installation (including failure to renew certificates in time).
  • The application fee payable by operators to their Local Authority has increased from €50 to €70 for new applications (but remains €50 for renewals). If an operator does not renew their certificate of compliance prior to its expiry date, they must then apply for a new certificate.
  • The fine for uncertified operators has increased from €3,000 to €5,000 or imprisonment for up to six months, or both.
  • A copy of your certificate of compliance must be displayed in a prominent position at your premises.
  • We require you to obtain your certificate of compliance from your local authority you must then send a compliant Approved Assessor report along with the application fee to your local authority.

Additionally, if an operator receives non-compliant materials, they must notify the Agency of this fact and take appropriate steps to minimise the risk to human health and the environment.  It is an offence to operate a vehicle refinishing for repair installation without a valid certificate of approval.  Other Vehicle Refinisher requirements under this legislation include:-

  • Immediate notification of the local authority by the Vehicle Refinisher on becoming aware of any breaches of the Regulations and restoration of compliance in the shortest possible time.
  • Immediate cessation of any operation which is likely to endanger human health or the environment and the immediate notification of the local authority.
  • Notification of the EPA of receipt of any unauthorised non compliant product.

Learn More