108 Holyrood Road
Edinburgh EH8 8AS
22 February 2008
Barry Love's article ('Nerves of steel to build here' Scotsman, 21 February) contains some misunderstandings of HSE's role in advising local authorities about the risks of developments near sites storing hazardous substances.
It is not true, as Mr Love suggests, that 'it won't be the HSE that assesses the risks and perhaps advise against the project'. By law, local planning authorities must consult HSE about any application for development around major hazard sites. In recent years HSE's advice has been codified and made accessible to local authorities directly via an online system. Local authorities can enter information about their proposed development, and determine the HSE advice for the vast majority of non-complex planning proposals. The response they obtain from this system remains HSE's advice which has to be taken into account by the local authorities. For the more complex planning applications, such as those at the Ravenscraig site, HSE staff will still engage directly with local authority staff on the risk assessment work.
If a local authority decides to grant planning permission against HSE's advice, the matter would automatically be referred to the Scottish Government for determination. This is what has happened in the case of the proposed development at Ravenscraig. HSE will be advising the Scottish Government as to whether we think further action should be taken.
Head of Chemical Industries Division
Hazardous Installations Directive
The Health and Safety Executive
Merseyside L20 7HS