Government consults on hazardous substances consents changes

New requirements on public consultation relating to decisions on where hazardous substances are located and on development around those locations have been published for consultation by the government.

Hazardous substances: changes designed to implement EU directive
Hazardous substances: changes designed to implement EU directive

The consultation, The role of planning in preventing major - accident hazards involving hazardous substances, seeks views on government proposals to transpose the requirements of the EU’s Seveso III directive.

These affect the way hazardous substances consents operate, and the way in which the planning system reduces the likelihood and impact of major accidents.

Among the measures in the document, it proposes aligning an existing list of controlled hazardous substances which require hazardous substances consent with those in the Seveso III directive.

It also proposes to make provisions to only require an operator of a site to apply for a new consent when a modification to an existing consent "could have significant consequences for major accident hazards".

The document says that, because the changes will bring a small number of existing establishments into the directive’s scope for the first time, there will need to be a new mechanism created "to draw them to the attention of the planning system".

"Otherwise there is a risk that the presence of the establishment will not be taken into account when considering proposals for development in the vicinity until they are notified under control of major accident hazard regulations", it says.

The document adds that the government’s aim "is to avoid specific requirements in regulation relating to this interim period and therefore we have not included specific provision in the draft regulations".

"We would welcome views on appropriate mechanisms, but, in any event, we will, through planning guidance, encourage operators of these establishments to advise local planning authorities that they have come within scope. We will also work with the industry and the Health and Safety Executive to reach these establishments, bearing in mind that it is in their interest to make themselves known to the local planning authority so as to avoid the encroachment of incompatible development".

The document says the new regulations will be accompanied by revised guidance which will be available on the planning guidance website.

"Our aim is to publish this guidance before the regulations come into force, so as to help the sector understand what is required", the document says.

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