Battery sale rules tightened up to combat acid attacks

BUYING A BATTERY with a separate acid pack will be controlled by new Government regulations designed to restrict the sale of sulphuric acid. The acid has been reclassified as a regulated substance in the wake of a spate of attacks on the public using corrosive liquids. From July 1 members of the public wishing to acquire or purchase sulphuric acid in concentrations of more than 15% will need a valid Explosives Precursors and Poisons (EPP) licence. This means that to purchase a motorcycle battery sold with an acid pack, a consumer will need to apply and receive a valid EPP licence, at a cost of £39.50, prior to purchase. From November 1 it will become an offence to possess or use sulphuric acid at concentrations of over 15% without a valid EPP licence. This includes bottles of battery electrolyte that have not yet been put into a motorcycle battery.

It is commonplace for motorcycle batteries to be supplied with a separate acid pack ready for filling and activation. Battery manufacturer GS Yuasa say that more than 75% of the motorcycle batteries they sell are supplied as a combi-pack and will be regulated by the new legislation, so it will have far reaching effects for retailers that sell them both in-store and online. GS Yuasa believe it is unlikely consumers will apply for an EPP licence to buy a motorcycle battery. Retailers will need to fill any motorcycle batteries before sale to members of the public who do not hold a valid EPP licence. Distributors and dealers will not need an EPP licence providing they are acquiring, importing, possessing or using sulphuric acid for purposes connected with their trade or business, although they may be asked to provide evidence of this and explain the intended use of the chemicals. All businesses do however have an obligation to report suspicious transactions both business to business and to members of the public, as well as disappearances and thefts of sulphuric acid. This also includes sulphuric acid contained within batteries. Retailers selling unfilled batteries with separate acid packs to members of the public with an EPP licence will have a responsibility to follow a comprehensive procedure to inspect and record the transaction on the customer’s EPP licence. Furthermore, a warning label must be affixed to the packaging. The penalties for possession without an EPP licence or supplying restricted substances without verifying that the member of public has a valid EPP licence can be a custodial sentence of two years and a large fine. Failure to enter transaction details onto the EPP licence or not attaching the warning label has a maximum fine of £500. Failure to meet the reporting requirements can attract a fine or custodial sentence of up to 3 months.

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