This website uses non-intrusive cookies to improve your user experience. You can visit our cookie privacy page for more information.

COMAH Charging Review Group

Minutes of the Meeting held on 20 March 2001


Mr Dan Mitchell Chairman, HSE

Industry Members

Mr Logan Colbeck Ind. Gas Industry
Mr Tom Fidell LPGA
Mr John Holding BCDTA
Mr Ian McPherson UKPIA

HSE members

Dr Brian Fullam
Mr Mark Reyland
Mr Neal Stone
Mr Bill Tomkins
Mr Ian Travers
Mr Charles Ransome

EA Members

Mr Wil Huntley

SEPA members

Mr John Burns


Mr David Rosen - Component Feasibility Study Project Team
Mr David Thompson Component Feasibility Study Project Team
Mr Tom Brandon - HSE
Mr Kelvin McFadyen - HSE


1. Mr Mitchell welcomed members to the fourth meeting of the Review Group, in particular new members Logan Colbeck (Industrial Gas Industry) and Bill Tomkins who was taking over Neal Stone's responsibilities in relation to financial and charging policy. David Rosen and David Thompson were attending as observers from the Component Feasibility Study Project.

2. Apologies had been received from Clive Musgrave (Transco), Nigel Bryson (GMB), Sylvia Channon (CBI), Roger Hyde (EA) and Brian McCay (Pains Wessex).

Chairmanship of CCRG

3. The Chairman explained that although CCRG's terms of reference provided for annual rotation of the chairmanship between EA, SEPA and HSE, in practice all meetings to date had been chaired by HSE. In the circumstances, it was agreed that HSE should continue to chair CCRG meetings and provide a permanent secretariat, with the proviso that these arrangements were open to review at any future meeting.
(Action: Secretary - amend ToR)

Minutes of the meeting of 5 September 2000.

4. The minutes were agreed subject to an amendment to minute 2 to clarify that Logan Colbeck is Safety Director, BOC Gases, and represents the industrial gas industry. Action: Secretary Matters Arising not covered by specific agenda items

5. Disputes Procedure: Mr Stone explained that at its meeting on 31 October 2000, ICRG had agreed two amendments to the Queries & Disputes Procedure: (a) to allow HSE (or the Agency in the case of COMAH) to elevate a dispute to the next Level when necessary; (b) to provide for an external member to assist the Chair in deciding whether a dispute should be referred to the Disputes Panel. In general, members recognised that the procedure needs to be demonstrably consistent and fair, and believed that it was working effectively in practice. Nevertheless, CIA had expressed concern that the procedure was overly complex and it was therefore agreed to keep the procedure under review and consider it further at the next meeting to determine whether any recommendations should be put to ICRG.
Action: Secretary

6. ICRG & HSC: Mr Stone reported that at its meeting on 28 February 2001, HSC had considered the annual report from ICRG together with the proposed fees and charges for 2001/02. HSC noted the proposals for taking forward the evaluation of charging (see minute 16 below) and were content with CRG arrangements, procedures and information provided. HSC had also asked that consideration be given to how the interests of non-CRG members might be taken into account.

Charge out rates for 2001/02

7. Paper CCRG 2001/02 set out the COMAH charge out rates which would be applied by HSE and SEPA in 2001/02. Mr Huntley would provide details of the EA rate for issue with the minutes of the meeting.
Action: Mr Huntley

It was noted that the HSE rate had yet to receive ministerial approval and was therefore unlikely to be introduced before mid-May.

8. In discussing the breakdown of the rate, members asked that footnotes be provided to clarify what was included in each element. A suitably annotated version is enclosed with these minutes.
Action: Secretary

Progress on Business Improvements

9. Review of Work Recording - HSE Form HI251: Richard Thomas described the work and outcomes of an HSE project which had examined how data recording in relation to major hazard establishments might be improved and streamlined. A copy of the slides used to illustrate this presentation is enclosed with these minutes for information.

10. The project had sought to ensure sufficient (but not excessive) recording of data and avoidance of duplicate recording, and had taken particular account of the requirements of COMAH and the facilities offered by a new IT system (CIS) which would be fully implemented within HSE's Hazardous Installations Directorate as from 1 April 2001. The project had concluded that the current HI 251 document could be replaced by information stored solely on CIS, with the following key benefits: (a) major hazard inspection information would be recorded on a single database, thereby eliminating any duplication; (b) data recording would be tailored to the COMAH regulatory regime, including safety report assessment; (c) the system would allow Directorate-wide electronic access to major hazard inspection information as a source of intelligence on which to base inspection strategies.

11. The recommendations would be implemented, subject to the outcome of a limited trial over a 6-8 week period covering a range of top-tier and lower-tier establishments. The new data recording arrangements would be less resource intensive than the existing system, and the trial would seek to quantify the efficiency savings. The cost of transferring existing information to the new system would be met by HSE.

12. New time-recording arrangements: the Secretary explained that as from 01/04/2001, the existing arrangements for capturing and reporting details of COMAH chargeable time and activity would be replaced by procedures based on CIS. The new arrangements would: (a) avoid duplicate work recording for HID inspectors who currently have to use separate systems for management and charging purposes; (b) streamline the work of HID's COMAH charging team by providing for batch reporting of data for invoicing purposes, and eliminating the need for collation of reports and timesheets; (c) replace the documentation currently supplied to operators with their invoices (a combination of statements and timesheets from various sources) with single reports in a standard format.

13. Similar improvements would also apply to the processing of charges under the gas transportation and offshore charging regimes. It was intended that subject to successful completion of invoicing runs using the new facilities for each regime, the staff operating these regimes would be integrated into a single co-located team with the reduction of one post.

Report of Component Feasibility Study

14. Ian Travers and Charles Ransome presented the final report from the feasibility study (paper CCRG 2001/04). Members noted the details of the outline component scheme which had been developed by the project team, the views expressed by industry at and following the recent seminar, and the work which would be required to develop the proposals into a fully calibrated, legally and financially viable scheme covering all COMAH chargeable work other than reactive activities. Members were particularly concerned that the models must be properly calibrated and refined as necessary in order to be able to generate realistic calculations of effort which reflected the particular circumstances of the varied range of COMAH sites.

15. In summary, CCRG welcomed the report and thanked the project team for its efforts. It was agreed that the proposed scheme represented a feasible alternative to actuals charging, and that the further work needed to fully develop the scheme should be taken forward. It was noted that further progress would be subject to agreement from the CA's management boards to commit the necessary resource. Implementation would be unlikely to be achieved before financial year 2003/04 and would undoubtedly be subject to the outcome of the evaluation of charging (see item 16).

Evaluation of Charging

16. Neal Stone outlined the current position on the review and evaluation of the COMAH, gas transportation, offshore and railways charging schemes, as set out in paper CCRG 2001/05. It had not proved possible for the research survey consultants to attend this CCRG meeting as the timetable for awarding the consultancy contract had been extended to allow for discussion with the bidders in order to better inform the selection process. However, members felt that it was not necessary to arrange an additional CCRG meeting. Consultation with the CCRG could be satisfactorily achieved by contact with individual members and a report back to the next CCRG meeting in September.

Benchmarking Study

17. Mark Reyland introduced paper CCRG 2001/06 which was being issued to each of the charging review groups. He explained that it had been difficult to identify a representative sample of organisations - most of those contacted were either not useful as a benchmark or unwilling to provide information. Co-operation had been secured from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), but comparison with HSE's Offshore Charging Regime was difficult in view of differences of salaries and charging arrangements (e.g. MCA charge directly for travelling time rather than including it in the charge out rate.

18. Mr Reyland drew attention to the arrangements for scrutiny and containment of the costs of COMAH charging, in particular the CA's internal audit programmes, external scrutiny by National Audit Office, and reviews to ensure efficiency and consistency of business methods

19. CCRG members were generally disappointed with the outcome of the study. It had been hoped that the study would produce a tabular comparison of the charge out rates (and their components) for around 20 or so bodies in the public and private sectors. Such data might well help allay members' concerns over the CA's charge out rates.

20. It was agreed that the reactions of the other CRGs should be sought and,if appropriate, a view put to ICRG as to whether further work should be done on benchmarking. It was also noted that such work might best be taken forward by the consultants as part of the evaluation of charging, and this should be conveyed to the tender board.
Action: Mr Tomkins/Mr Travers

It was also agreed to make specific provision for LPGA to be contacted by the consultants
Action: Mr Tomkins

Any Other Business

21. Members noted details of the anticipated COMAH workload for 2001/02 (attached as Annex 1 to these minutes)

22. Members noted the statistics on chargeable work delivered and invoices issued/queried in the current year (attached as Annex 2 these minutes). In response to continuing concerns from LPGA about the ratio of on-site to off-site time associated with inspection of LPG premises, it was agreed to provide for the next meeting an analysis of ratios for a range of industry sectors, and that the industry representatives would propose logical industry groupings for this purpose.
Action: Secretary

23. In response to a request for information on COMAH charges and charging arrangements in other EU countries, it was agreed to: (a) provide members with the relevant report from the component feasibility study; (b) seek information from members on charges elsewhere in the EU; (c) investigate the position in Eire; (d) check if relevant information is available as a result of work done in relation to the Biocides Directive.
Action: Secretary

Date of Next Meeting

24. The next meeting would be held on Friday 21 September 2001 in London.

Annex 1 


Anticipated HSE workload in 2001/02

Safety Report Assessment

Number of full Safety Reports expected to be assessed: 288

Forecast Chargeable Days:

Regulatory: 1925
Technical: 1928
Predictive: 1096
Total: 5634 (includes 685 to be delivered by external contractor)


Number of top-tier inspections: 447
Number of lower-tier inspections: 370

Forecast Chargeable Days:

Regulatory: 1293
Technical: 263
Total: 1556

Total Chargeable Days: 7190 (of which 6505 chargeable by HSE)

Estimated Income: £5.2m

Annex 2

Summary of COMAH chargeable work 1999/2000

Number of COMAH TT Establishments - 457
Number of COMAH LT Establishments - 946

Number of Hours

Activity HSE EA SEPA Total
Defer 11 14 - 25
Domino 2 - - 2
Enforcement 588.5 11.5 5 605
Inspection 14,015.5 96 12 14,123.5
Investigation 1,617 57.5 3.5 1,678
Limit Info 7 - -7
Prohibition 31.5 - - 31.5
Register 89.5 11 4.5 105
Safety Report Assessment 3,155 287.5 189 3,631.5
Total 19,517 477.5 214 20,208.5
Invoice Total £s 1,990,734 48,705 18,404 2,057,843

Ratio of contact to non contact inspection time: TT 1:1.5; LT 1:1.67

Summary of COMAH chargeable work 1st - 3rd quarter 2000/01

Number of COMAH TT Establishments: 451
Number of COMAH LT Establishments: 830

Activity HSE EA SEPA Total
Defer 3 5 3 11
Domino 38 20 52
Enforcement 550.5 32.5 39.5 622.5
Inspection 6584 455.5 466 7,426
Investigation 2744.5 43 112.5 2,900
Limit Info - 3.5 - 3.5
Prohibition 5.5 - - 5.5
Register 28.5 46 0.5 75
Safety Report Assessment 10,421 1697 208 12,326
Total 20,375 2,282.5 849.5 23,421.5
Invoice Total £s £2,119,000 £237,380.0 £73,906.5 £2,430,286.5

 Ratio of contact to non contact inspection time: TT 1:1.5; LT 1:1.48

Invoicing Information April-June 2000 July-Sept 2000 Oct-Dec 2000 Jan-Mar 2000 Total
No. issued 315 353 479 - 1,147
Value £618,884 £856,332 £955,885 - £2,431,101
No. Queried 26 26 27 - 79
% queried 8 7 6 - 7
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3
No. of cases carried forward from the previous financial year 8 6 0
No. of cases received during the year (for level 2 cases the number of cases which entered the system at Level 2) since 1.4.00 67 9 3
No. of cases resolved during the year 62 4 3
Number found in favour of HSE - - 1
Number found in favour of dutyholder - - 2

Updated 2012-01-30