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Reviewing COMAH Intervention Plans 2016-17


The objective of this standalone guidance is to explain the processes for:

As with previous years, the CA site ranking methodology and site performance (including the new performance and recognition framework) will inform the prioritisation of resources.

Please note that the security classification of COMAH Intervention Plans should be ‘OFFICIAL’ unless there is obvious sensitive information in the Plan.


Delivering a prioritised intervention programme for COMAH operators is central to the regulatory duties placed on the Competent Authority (CA). The recent changes we have made to our approach to COMAH have delivered a more consistent and strategic approach to our regulatory programme.

COMAH Intervention Managers (CIMs) have been introduced to lead on developing the plan as well as to coordinate and maintain an oversight of the CA’s COMAH regulatory activity.  The key roles and duties of the CIM regarding the review of intervention plans can be found in Appendix 2 and a full description of the role can be found in the CIM User Manual.

The planning arrangements build on last year’s ‘One HID’ approach and the arrangements to integrate the planning and delivery of Environmental Permitting Regulations (EPR) and COMAH regulation at COMAH sites in England and Wales. The plans for England and Wales are reflected in the Compliance Assessment Plans (CAP).  This year will introduce the integration of planning under COMAH and Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations (PPC) in Scotland.

The joint process will give Operators the assurance that, at sites which fall under both COMAH and EPR/PPC, regulatory activity will be planned to avoid unnecessary duplication and overlap between the interventions for health, safety and environmental regimes.

Again this year, the performance and recognition framework will allow operator performance to have a greater influence on the CAs planned regulatory activities.  Draft CIPs (and CAP) will be provided to operators to enable them to comment on matters such as regulatory overlap and the consideration of operator performance. 

The operator is to be contacted by the CIM with an offer to discuss draft plans.  The type and depth of these discussions will vary from telephone conversations to site meetings, depending on the complexity of the plans.


The review should be led by the CIM and involve; Inspectors from the relevant environmental regulator, HSE and EA / SEPA / NRW team leaders, Discipline Specialist Inspectors where necessary and administrative staff.  Once agreed, all intervention plans are signed off at team leader level by HSE and EA / SEPA / NRW. Band 1s (HSE) provide an additional audit sign-off on a sample of plans.

A key early feature in the review timetable is contact and discussion with colleagues in the environmental regulators to identify those COMAH sites that are also subject to EPR (England and Wales) or PPC (Scotland) so that this can be identified on the intervention plan. Subsequently, where EPR/PPC sites are identified, the CIM needs to ensure that planning under the two regimes is integrated to avoid duplication and overlap.  The EA/NRW COMAH Officer will provide reviewed CAPs to the CIM that clearly identify any COMAH relevant activity and explain why COMAH relevant regulatory activity is being carried out under either COMAH or EPR/PPC.  In Scotland SEPA will highlight in the intervention plan where a topic is to be coordinated with PPC aspects

The CIM should review any CAP and ensure that the subsequent COMAH Intervention Plan (CIP) is reviewed for any potential areas of overlap or duplication of regulatory effort.  If the CAP does not achieve this then the CIM should seek a revision of the CAP from EA/NRW. 

Draft plans will be shared with operators prior to finalisation (not later than the end of January) to allow discussion of the draft plans with site Operators.  This should improve operator understanding of the plans andallow them to provide any evidence (e.g. of operator performance or planned operations at the site) that might influence the plans prior to finalisation.

Appendix 2 summarises the roles and responsibilities for those involved in the review process.

To allow the complete Intervention Plan document to be shared with operators, a separate document is created that contains all the expected priority areas from all CA partners for consideration at intervention planning reviews.  This is the Proposed Intervention Priorities document (PIP) which then becomes the main input into the Intervention Plan. (see also Further References)

For the 2016-17 work years, the plans need to reflect the changes brought about by COMAH Remodelling, the outputs from the BRE review process and the implementation of Seveso III through COMAH 2015.  Specifically plans will:

In most cases the revised plan will follow on from and refer back to the existing plan.

Appendix 1 shows the Intervention Priorities used for Resource Allocation following the review of intervention plans.


Midway through the process, but not later than the end of January, draft plans (COMAH and EPR) will be provided to Site Operators for discussion to enable operator input into the planning process.  This might include a site meeting but this will depend on the complexity of the plans.

At the end of this process there will be a completed Site intervention plan.  This plan will be sent to the operator along with any EPR plan relevant to the site by the end of March.  The plans will remain separate documents but will be covered by one letter to the operator and will jointly provide clarity on which regime – COMAH or EPR – an intervention is to be carried out under. Electronic versions of final plans should be sent out in pdf format

Issued CIPs, CAPs and the cover letters need to be stored on HSE COIN system in a standard location.

Site hazard ranking and hazard bands

The site hazard ranking methodology provides scores for safety and environment for each site. These are used to determine hazard bands for both safety and environment. (The Hazard Ranking e.g. AA, BC, etc should be added to the appropriate section of the Intervention Plan).  Safety risk will tend to predominate over environmental risk, but must not be allowed to overwhelm that environmental risk.

Site Performance

Assessing site performance is a routine part of setting forward intervention priorities. The performance and recognition framework needs to be followed to ensure the CA considers the following during the planning and intervention process:


CIPs provide transparency of the planned interventions that Operators can expect from the regulator over the period, when they will happen, and why they are necessary. This allows the duty holder to prepare for and address items in the CIP prior to regulatory visits, and budget accordingly where cost recovery applies.

Delivering a prioritised intervention programme for COMAH operators is central to the regulatory duties placed on the CA under COMAH. Intervention plans and on-site inspection aim to:

  1. Ensure that the operator can demonstrate that he has taken appropriate measures to prevent and limit the consequences of major accidents;
  2. Compare what is written in safety reports with what is happening on-site to ensure safety reports adequately reflect the conditions at the establishment;
  3. Demonstrate that we are targeting our resources at sites that present the greatest inherent hazards and risk;
  4. Reflect the performance of individual operators within our intervention agenda
  5. Set common standards and drive compliance at the sector level through our strategic programmes of inspection;
  6. Describe our approach to sampling the most important issues rather than examining all of the control measures required to be implemented by duty holders;
  7. Ensure we work efficiently, deploying our people and resources to best effect;
  8. Ensure that we are meeting CA legal duties under COMAH; and
  9. Ensure COMAH and EPR (England & Wales) or PPC (Scotland) regulatory activity will have been planned so as to avoid unnecessary duplication and overlap between the interventions planned for health, safety and environmental regimes

The outcome of the review must be an intervention plan for every COMAH site (and an EPR/PPC plan where relevant) that adheres to the above principles.

Each Intervention Plan will identify and prioritise the major hazard work considered necessary at the site, including; a resource estimate (in days) of  CIM, other HSE Regulatory, EA / SEPA / NRW and Discipline Inspector input for the next two years.  Intervention plans should also include the timing of interventions, by quarter, for the first year of the plan.  For the COMAH Competent Authority, each CIP will have a corresponding ‘Proposed Intervention Priorities (PIP) document.

The closing out of work started or activities needed to confirm the completion of actions required by Operator, from previous interventions, will have high priority.


Targeting and Timing

Teams should review the content of all COMAH plans and estimate resource needs in accordance with this SPC. HSE Heads of Operations and EA / SEPA / NRW team leaders have agreed that the review of the content of plans outlined above should be undertaken and completed in time to ensure the duty holder receives the revised plan by the end of March 2016.

(For full timetable and deadline information see: 2016-17 CA Timetable for Intervention Planning in ‘Further References below).

Timing Summary

Further References

Templates (Pro-forma documents Internal to CA)

Further Information

Sources of further information and guidance are available in the following documents:


HID Chemicals, Explosives and Microbiological Hazards Division
CEMHD 4B Planning and Strategy Team - Bootle


Updated 2017-11-21