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Bradford Telegraph and Argus article: Let's join together in fight for school

Kevin Allars, Head of Chemical Industries Division responds

Sir

Your article (http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/display.var.1844617.0.lets_join_together_in_fight_for_school.php) 'Let's join together in fight for school' (Telegraph & Argus, 19 November) seriously misrepresents the role of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the advice provided to Bradford City Council concerning Wyke Manor School, and the consultation process.

Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) are required by law to consult HSE, and to take account of our advice when determining applications for certain developments within defined areas around hazardous sites such as that operated by AH Marks at Bradford. HSE has no power to insist on refusal of planning permission.

AH Marks is one of 370 top major hazard sites in the country. Wyke Manor School is located within the consultation zone of this chemical plant. Our advice to Bradford City Council is - if you're going to build a new school then it would make sense to take this opportunity to build it outside the zone, in an area that further reduces the risk to those using it.

HSE regulates companies such as AH Marks closely to ensure they are run as safely as possible, but risks can never be completely eliminated. Our advice should not be taken as an indication that the plant is any less safe than it always has been.

Contrary to the impression given by ward councillor David Robinson, we discussed our recommendation at length with Council members, planners and lawyers in Bradford in June, and again in London at the Department for Children, Schools and Families, earlier this month.

Kevin Allars
Head of Chemical Industries Division
Hazardous Installations Directorate
Health and Safety Executive

Updated 2009-04-27