Local planning authorities seldom go against HSE advice but, when they do, HSE will want to engage with them to make sure that they understand the risks and possible consequences should a major accident occur. Should the planning authority still proceed, HSE will take the matter seriously and consider its options. Examples of some recent cases where this has occurred, together with HSE’s advice are available. In cases where HSE has serious concerns, it will consider taking the matter further by writing to the Secretary of State to request that the case be "called in".
When a planning authority or hazardous substances authority in England and Wales proposes to grant planning permission or hazardous substances consent against HSE's advice, HSE must be given 21 days notice in which to consider whether to recommend that the Secretary of State call in the application.
In Scotland, the planning authority must refer the application to the Scottish Ministers. Once accepted, Scottish Ministers will seek HSE’s views on whether or not the application should be called-in. It will then be for Scottish Ministers to decide whether the planning application should be called-in for their determination or cleared back to the planning authority for them to deal with.
In both cases, HSE’s response will be based on HSE’s call-in policy.
In the last 30 years, HSE has only requested that six planning applications in England and Wales be called-in. In deciding whether or not to do this, HSE will consider a number of factors, including the type and size of the proposed development, and the numbers and type of people who will be exposed to the risk (is it a vulnerable population such as children, old people, etc?). HSE’s policy on deciding on potential call-in cases is contained in SPC/Tech/Gen/49.
There have been other cases where HSE has given very careful consideration to requesting that a planning application be called-in but decided not to do so.