Last reviewed 7 September 2021

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has issued a policy paper on the land use planning elements of the Seveso III Directive in the UK, ie where those establishments are sited and what is sited around them following the UK’s exit from EU.

The common framework paper sets out that the UK Government (UKG) and devolved administrations (DAs) will maintain the principles and objectives of retained EU legislation across the hazardous substances planning regime, ie to prevent on-shore major accidents involving hazardous substances and limit the consequences to people and/or the environment of any accidents that do take place. It also seeks to, wherever possible, facilitate the sharing of information on a multilateral basis.

The key restrictions are that the UKG and DAs:

  • are unable to change the definition of what an establishment is (a location where dangerous substances are present in significant quantities)

  • must not lower standards on what constitutes a dangerous substance by removing categories of substances or individual substances from the list, or raising the threshold at which the quantity becomes significant and the establishment falls into scope of the regime

  • must ensure that the objectives of preventing major accidents and limiting the consequences of such accidents for human health and the environment are taken into account in their land-use policies, through controls on the siting of new establishments and new developments close to establishments

  • must set up appropriate consultation procedures to ensure that operators provide sufficient information on the risks arising from the establishment and that technical advice on those risks is available when decisions are taken

  • facilitate public involvement at various stages of decision-making on relevant applications for consent or plans and programmes.

The document states that while a framework agreement is appropriate for the hazardous substances planning regime, it should be non-legislative. The UKG and the DAs have agreed a set of nine principles for future ways of working that would make up the agreement.

  1. In the absence of EU requirements applying to the UK, the nations of the UK will consider appropriate evidence and expert advice (eg that of the Control of Major Accidents Hazards competent authority and industry bodies) as regards the substances and quantities to which hazardous substances consent should apply.

  2. Administrations will respect the ability of other administrations to make decisions (allowing for policy divergence).

  3. Administrations will consider the impact of decisions on other administrations, including any impacts on cross-cutting issues such as the UK Internal Market.

  4. Administrations agree to seek to inform other administrations wherever reasonably possible of prospective changes in policy one month, or as close to one month as is practical, before making them public.

  5. Administrations will ensure an appropriate level of public transparency in decision making that leads to policy changes.

  6. Parties will create the right conditions for collaboration, eg by ensuring policy leads attend future meetings.

  7. Future collaborative meetings will be conducted at official level and on a without prejudice basis.

  8. In order to broaden the debate at future collaborative meetings, parties will ensure that different perspectives are present.

  9. Those attending future collaborative meetings recognise the importance of how collaboration is approached.