This discussion document is issued by the Health and Safety Commission to encourage a debate about the role of local authorities in the operation of the Explosives Act 1875. Responses will help inform proposals for making new regulations under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
This document seeks views on four main issues concerned with the role of local authorities in the operation of the Explosives Act 1875.
The first set of issues concern the role of the local authority when it is asked to give assent to the grant of a licence by HSE for a factory or a magazine. The document seeks views on what role local authorities should have in scrutinising the safety measures required in licences, and whether the present procedures provide the best opportunity for them to fulfil this role. The document also seeks views on whether the assent process provides safeguards on non-safety issues which are not provided by planning legislation.
Secondly, the document seeks views on the nature of the local authority regime: whether it should continue as at present to be governed by fixed non-discretionary rules - with special cases being dealt with by HSE - or whether there is scope for local authorities to have greater discretion in setting the conditions for the licences they grant.
Thirdly the document asks whether the present system for registration of premises storing smaller quantities of explosives (mainly shops selling fireworks during the firework season) should be retained. It seeks views on whether the information needs of fire services might be better met through the licensing system or a registration system with a more restricted scope.
The fourth and final set of issues concern the allocation of enforcement responsibilities. The document seeks views on the following issues:
whether there should be a rationalisation of the allocation of enforcement responsibilities between the different types of local authority in England - at present, depending on the area of the country, enforcement of the Explosives Act may be the responsibility of a unitary authority, of a county council, a London Borough or a Fire and Civil Defence Authority;