This website uses non-intrusive cookies to improve your user experience. You can visit our cookie privacy page for more information.

Social media

Javascript is required to use HSE website social media functionality.

Frequently asked questions

Purpose

What is the purpose of the Seveso III Directive?

The Directive aims to prevent major accidents involving dangerous substances and limit the consequences to human health and the environment of any that do happen.

What is the reason for a new Seveso Directive?

A new Directive is needed because the hazard-based classification system for chemicals, upon which the scope of Seveso is determined, is being replaced and Seveso II will no longer function unless there is a link with the new classification system. The European Commission also took the opportunity to modernise the Directive in line with other environmental legislation.

Why are the COMAH 1999 Regulations being replaced ?

The Seveso III Directive has to be transposed into UK law by 1 June 2015. The differences between the new Directive and COMAH 1999 means that new Regulations are required in order for the Directive to be fully implemented.

Definitions

What’s the difference between a Top Tier and Upper Tier site? Why has this changed?

There is no difference, a Top or Upper Tier site is one that holds dangerous substances in quantities at or above the higher threshold in Annex 1.

Upper Tier is the terminology used in both the Seveso II and Seveso III Directives, although Top Tier was chosen for COMAH 1999. As HSE is bound by the government’s instruction to ‘copy out’ Directives we have chosen to use the term Upper Tier in COMAH 2015.

What is the difference between a new, existing and other establishment?

A new establishment is one that is constructed or enters into operation on or after 1 June 2016. A new establishment can also be a current establishment that changes tier due to modifications leading to a change in inventory on or after 1 June 2016.

An existing establishment is one that is a Lower or Upper Tier site under the COMAH 1999 Regulations and continues to be a COMAH site at the same tier on 1 June 2015.

An other establishment is that is a Lower or Upper Tier site under the COMAH 1999 Regulations but solely due to the change in classification from CHIP to CLP will change tier from 1 June 2016.

The crucial difference with an “other” establishment is that the change of tier is involuntary and not linked to a change in inventory, process or activity. Other establishments will have longer to produce emergency plans and Safety Reports to reflect the involuntary nature of this change.

Classification

What is the hazard-based classification system for chemicals on which the scope of Seveso III is based?

Seveso III is based on the new classification criteria in the Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures (CLP Regulation). This in turn is based on the UN’s Globally Harmonised System (GHS) of classification. Guidance on the CLP Regulation can be is available.

Seveso II was based on the CHIP Regulations, what is Seveso III based on?

Seveso III is based on the European Regulations on classification, labelling and packaging of substances (CLP). The CLP Regulation adopts the globally harmonised system (GHS) on the classification and labelling of chemicals throughout the EU and will replace CHIP in June 2015, which is when the Seveso III Directive has to be transposed into UK law. Guidance on the CLP Regulation is available.

Where can I find good quality information on classification of substances?

The responsibility for the classification of substances falls to the REACH authorities, the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) [http://www.hse.gov.uk/chemical-classification/legal/clp-regulation.htm] in Helsinki. The Classification and Labelling (C&L) Database [4] is available on the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) website. The data which has been agreed by the EU is marked as ‘harmonised’ and there is a check box on the C&L database to obtain the harmonised data.

Further information on the background to CLP and resources is available

There are substances on my inventory that do not have a harmonised classification, whose responsibility is it do the classification ?

All those in the supply chain are responsible for ensuring that substances and mixtures are labelled and packaged correctly before being placed on the market. Importers and manufacturers must classify substances and mixtures, downstream users may find that this has been done further up the chain. Information on self classification can be found on the ECHA website

I think my site will drop out of tier of COMAH because of the CHIP / CLP alignment – what should I do ?

COMAH 99 will remain in force until 31 May 2015 so your site would remain in scope until 1 June 2015 with any obligations that entails. From 1 June 2015 you will have one year to reclassify your inventory and notify the Competent Authority of any change in status.

If you think the CHIP / CLP alignment would cause your site to fall out of scope you may choose to carry out the reclassification work before 1 June 2015 to notify that you no longer fall within COMAH as soon as possible.

Who do I speak to if I have a query about the classification of a specific substance or mixture?

There is supporting guidance on the chemical classification pages of this site. You can also find contact details for the CLP and REACH helpdesks on the resources page.

Scope

What are the implications for me?

The changes to Seveso have been kept to a minimum as far as possible. However, the new classification criteria in the CLP Regulations and the way Seveso III will link to CLP from 1 June 2015 could mean that a number of sites may:

  • enter the Seveso (COMAH) regime at the lower or upper tier threshold,
  • move from the lower tier to the upper tier, or vice versa, or
  • leave the regime completely, although this is only likely to happen in a very few cases.

The changes will have implications for people who have duties under the legislation and others who may be affected by them.

Transitional arrangements for moving from the current system to the new are being considered with the goal of keeping any additional burden on operators to a minimum and removing duplication of effort. As these arrangements become clear updates will be put on these pages and circulated via the ebulletin which you can sign up to.

My site already comes under Seveso/COMAH, do I need to do anything because of the new Directive?

 If you are already operating a Seveso (COMAH) site, you should:

  • Check the scope of the Directive ie changes to Annex I;
  • Check other parts of the Directive which may apply eg more information may be required for the safety report which may then need to be revised, or public information requirements may have changed for your site.
  • Check the draft Regulations which will be published as part of formal consultation in Spring 2014, operators will have the opportunity to submit any comments to HSE as part of this process.
  • Check the new Regulations and the accompanying guidance, draft guidance is due to be published online in Spring 2015 with hard copy available once the Regulations have come into force.

Transitional arrangements for moving from the current system to the new are being considered with the goal of keeping any additional burden on operators to a minimum and removing duplication of effort. As these arrangements become clear updates will be put on this page and circulated via the ebulletin which you can sign up to.

My site is out of scope of the Seveso II Directive does that mean it will stay out of scope of the new Directive?

Although your site may currently be out of scope of the Seveso II Directive, you will need to check the changes to Annex 1 of the Seveso III Directive which could affect whether your site remains out of scope or becomes a lower or upper tier site. Changes to other parts of the legislation might also affect how you discharge your duties.

Does Seveso III apply to my business?

If your business holds/produces dangerous substances at or above the threshold levels in the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations 1999 (which implement the Seveso II Directive in the UK), it is likely that the Directive and therefore the Regulations will apply to your business.

Seveso applies to a wide range of industries eg chemical and petrochemical, fuel storage (including marine fuel storage) and distribution, businesses that store gas, manufacture and store explosives, or have large warehouses or distribution facilities storing dangerous substances, eg agrochemicals, flammable liquids and propellants like aerosols.

If new data on the properties of substances becomes available that leads to a change to a company’s COMAH status, what should a company do?

Companies have a duty to self classify the chemicals they use or store and to consider whether COMAH applies to them or whether they have changed their status within COMAH. They should notify the Competent Authority (CA)i.e. HSE/EA/SEPA when the change of classification brings them within scope of COMAH or changes their status from an upper tier to a lower tier COMAH site or vice versa.

How will pipelines be affected by the new Regulations?

The Regulations exclude pipelines transporting dangerous substances beyond the boundaries of a COMAH establishment. Such pipelines will still be covered by PSR (Pipeline Safety Regulations).

For COMAH 2015 the quantity of dangerous substance within a pipeline up to the boundary of the establishment will be considered in scope and will contribute to the site’s inventory.

Implementation

I have heard that Government Departments have to ‘copy out’ the requirements of a Directive. Will HSE be doing this for the Seveso III Directive?

The government requires that government departments 'copy-out' European Directives to ensure that no additional burdens are placed on business. If the department proposes to go beyond the terms of the Directive then these proposals must be supported by evidence, including from consultation.

A small number of points that go beyond the Directive have been proposed, mostly retaining well regarded standards and practices from COMAH 1999. Feedback from the consultation will be taken into consideration when making a final decision on these points.

Will there be guidance on the new COMAH Regulations?

Yes, legal guidance on the new COMAH Regulations (a replacement for the current L111 pubication) will be published online three months before the regulations come into force i.e. around the beginning of March 2015.  Hard copies of this document will be available from 1 June 2015.

Additional guidance on specific topics will be available after 1 June 2015.

Will HSE consult on its proposals for implementation of the Directive?

Yes, HSE has carried out a formal consultation exercise on the proposed COMAH 2015 Regulations. This consultation ran from 2 May - 27 June 2014.  The formal response to this consultation will be published in October 2014.

We know the COMAH Regulations are going to change but the current regulations will still be law until 31 May 2015, are any transitional arrangements going to be used to bridge the gap between COMAH 1999 and its replacement ?

Transitional arrangements for moving from the current system to the new are being considered for a number of topics such as the change from CHIP to CLP (Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures) system of classification and its impact on notification. Transitional arrangements are being considered with the goal of keeping any additional burden on operators to a minimum and removing duplication of effort. As these arrangements become clear updates will be put on this page and circulated via the ebulletin which you can sign up to

Additionally, through our informal and formal consultation efforts we will be actively seeking the opinions of operators and other involved parties on the effectiveness and practicality of our proposed transitional arrangements.

What should I do if my emergency plan, PIZ leaflet or other documentation is due to be reviewed between now and 1 June 2015?

COMAH 99 will remain in force until 31 May 2015 so any requirements that operators are obliged to meet until that date remain valid. Operators may consult the finalised Regulations and new legal guidance from March 2015 and anticipate any additional requirements.

Further questions on specific circumstances should be directed either to the Seveso III Enquiries inbox or your site’s Intervention Manager.

Timescales

When does the Seveso III Directive have to be implemented and when will the new COMAH Regulations come into force?

The Seveso III Directive has to be transposed into UK law by 1 June 2015. It will be implemented through new COMAH Regulations which will come into force on 1 June 2015. The planning elements will be implemented through revised planning legislation which is the responsibility of the Department for Communities and Local Government in England and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales.

The public consultation finishes on 27 June 2015 and the response will be published in October 2014.  Transitional arrangements for moving from the current system to the new are being considered with the goal of keeping any additional burden on operators to a minimum and removing duplication of effort. As these arrangements become clear updates will be put on this page and circulated via the ) ebulletin which you can sign up to.

I'm confused by what I have to do and when because of COMAH 2015 - what guidance is there?

The draft consultation on COMAH 2015 Regulations is available online. A summary of key changes and potential action that can be taken now is available in the one year to go ebulletin.

The legal guidance to the Regulations (the replacement to L111) will be available online from mid March 2015. Check back to this site or sign up for our ebulletin for further updates.

Land use planning

I noticed that some of the Articles in the Directive relate to land use planning, is HSE responsible for planning matters?

No, planning matters fall within the remit of the Department for Communities and Local Government in England, and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales. They will be responsible for implementing the articles in the Directive which relate to land use planning and will be transposed through the relevant planning legislation. HSE has an advisory role for applications for Hazardous Substances Consent and planning applications for certain developments in close proximity to major hazard installations or pipelines.

As planning falls within the remit of the Department for Communities and Local Government in England and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales they will be considering this issue.

When will the Land Use Planning parts of the Directive come into force?

The Land Use Planning provisions have the same deadline as the rest of the Directive and must be implemented by 1 June 2015.

DCLG and the devolved administrations will be implementing these provisions.

Safety reports

Will Upper Tier sites have to redo their safety reports and emergency plans to comply with the new Directive ? If so, what will be the timescales for complying with this?

The Directive requires existing upper tier establishments to review their safety reports and emergency plans and submit any changes that may be required by the new regulations. Work is still underway to define what will constitute a material change and require an update to be submitted.

The timescales for compliance, including any transitional arrangements for establishments due to review their safety reports and emergency plans as part of their normal schedule in the run up the COMAH 2015 Regulations coming into force, were included in the draft Regulations published in Spring 2014. Further information will be published on these pages as soon as it is available.

Annex II says I have to include in my safety report a ‘Review of past accidents and incidents with the same substances and processes used’. How wide will operators be expected to take this ? This could mean a lot of extra work.

Sites will be required to provide this information within reason and with consideration to what is practical and relevant. For example lessons learned from other sites or countries should be taken into consideration where they are relevant to a process or substance used by the operator and its major accident hazard potential.

What should I do if my Safety Report is due to be reviewed between now and 1 June 2015? I do not want to do the work twice.

COMAH 99 will remain in force until 31 May 2015 so any requirements that operators are obliged to meet until that date remain valid. If you are due to review your Safety Report as part of your five year cycle before 1 June 2015 you must do so. When COMAH 2015 comes into force operators will have 1-2 years (depending on whether they are classified as existing or other establishments) to ensure their Safety Reports are compliant with the new Regulations.

Operators who wish to future proof their Safety Reports may do so by updating their inventories from CHIP to CLP and by reviewing the Regulations to ensure they comply with any new or additional requirements.

Guidance on how to ‘future proof’ Safety Reports will be available on these web-pages shortly. Please check back or follow our ebulletin to keep up to date with developments.

Public information

How will issues of commercial sensitivity and national security be dealt with under the new Directive?

The new Directive has been brought in line with the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters and now assumes that information regarding COMAH sites and their hazards will be available to the public. The methods by which information will be made available are still under consideration and will be included as part of formal consultation in Spring 2014.

The Directive allows for information to be withheld if it is considered appropriate meaning exceptions for commercial sensitivity and national security reasons will still be possible on a case by case basis.

As an operator will I have to provide the electronic public information via my website?

Options are being considered to determine the most effective way to implement the requirement for certain information to be permanently and electronically available to the public. Further details about the proposals will be included as part of formal consultation in Spring 2014.

As more information on this becomes available it will be put on this page and circulated via the ebulletin which you can sign up to

Do the public information requirements mean that my safety report will have be online ?

No. Seveso III does not have a requirement for a public register. In line with the Environmental Information Regulations, the Competent Authority will have release a Safety Report to a member of the public if it is requested. Guidance will be in place to ensure that Safety Reports can be suitably redacted on the grounds of national security and commercial confidentiality.

Who will provide guidance on what details of my Safety Report should not be made public due to national security reasons ?

The Home Office will be contributing to guidance on this topic based on their expertise. Sites who have contact with NaCTSO officers will continue to do so.

Why do we have to make this additional information permanently available to the public?

The new public information requirements come from the Directive's alignment with the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention) (link). The Aarhus Convention and by extension the Seveso III Directive acknowledges the public's 'right to know' on environmental matters as they relate to major hazards.

HSE has consulted with operators and is working closely with the Home Office to ensure that useful, quality information is made available to the public whilst ensuring that sensitive information is not put into the public domain.

When will the IT platform be available for operators to use ?

It is anticipated that the IT platform will be available from Spring 2015 to allow operators to pre-populate their information in advance of the Regulations coming into force on 1 June 2015.

Further information will be provided as soon as it is available.

I am an Upper Tier operator, why do I have to still produce PIZ information if the information will be on an IT Platform ?

The key feature of PIZ information is that it should be available to those who may be affected by a major accident and they should not have to request it. Upper Tier sites will still be required to actively provide this information.

Additionally, due to its specific location nature PIZ information can be tailored to include relevant information not required by the general public information requirements.

What's happening to the public register?

There is no requirement under Seveso III for a public register. The IT Platform is not a replacement for the public register as it will not hold Safety Reports.

Heavy fuel oil

Emergency planning

Will there be any new requirements on emergency planning under Seveso III?

The main emergency planning principals will stay the same, that is for Top Tier establishments, specific onsite and offsite emergency plans and Public Information Zone (PIZ) information and for Lower Tier establishments, emergency planning arrangements via the Major Accident Prevention Plan (MAPP) and Safety Management System (SMS).

There are a number of differences such as:

  • extra information is required for offsite emergency plans (arrangements for offsite mitigatory action and for providing neighbouring establishments and sites with information on accidents and actions to be taken);
  • timescales for preparing emergency plans;
  • the public is given an early opportunity to give an opinion on an offsite emergency plan; and
  • public information is required on emergency warnings and behaviour in the event of an accident for all establishments, and information from offsite emergency plans for Top Tier sites.

How these new requirements will be implemented is still being worked on and the proposals will be included as part of formal consultation in Spring 2014.

As more information on this becomes available it will be put on this page and circulated via the ebulletin which you can sign up to

I’ve heard there will be new requirements for Lower Tier sites to provide offsite emergency plans and PIZ (Public Information Zone) information under Seveso III – is this correct?

The requirements for Lower Tier sites on emergency planning have not changed in Seveso III. There is only a specific duty to prepare off site plans and PIZ information for Top Tier sites. Lower Tier emergency planning continues to be via the Major Accident Prevention Plan (MAPP) and the Safety Management System (SMS).

Potential clarification of the regulations on requirements for Top and Lower Tier sites will be included as part of formal consultation in Spring 2014.

All sites, including Lower Tier will now be required to make the information listed in Annex V of the Directive permanently and electronically available. This includes information on how the public will be warned and what they should do in the event of a major accident, which has implications for emergency planning.

How these new requirements will be implemented is still being worked on and the proposals will be included as part of formal consultation in Spring 2014.

As more information on this becomes available it will be put on this page and circulated via the ebulletin which you can sign up to.

My external emergency plan is due for review between now and 1 June 2015 – how will this be affected by the COMAH 2015 Regulations?

The COMAH 1999 Regulations will continue to be in place and enforceable until they are replaced on 1 June 2015, therefore operators and other dutyholders are required to comply with their obligations under COMAH 99 until that time.

Dutyholders may review the draft Regulations included in the Consultation Document to anticipate what, if any, additional information may need to included to be COMAH 2015 compliant.

Further guidance on this, and other topics, will be issued as soon as it is available.

Other

The Directive talks about neighbouring establishments, how are these different from Domino sites ?

Domino effects, as described in Article 9, are where a group of upper or lower tier establishments is identified where the major accident potential or its consequences is increased by virtue of the geographical position of a site, the proximity of such establishments and their inventories of dangerous substances. There is specific requirements for information about such groups of sites to be provided to the Competent Authority.

Article 3 of the Directive defines a neighbouring establishment as ‘an establishment that is located in such proximity to another establishment so as to increase the risk or consequences of a major accident’. Information on neighbouring establishments relevant to major accident hazard potential should be included in notifications and safety reports. Article 7 and Annex II further require that information on neighbouring sites which fall outside of the scope of the Directive should also be included where they may still affect a major accident scenario for example a furniture warehouse or tyre storage yard located near a COMAH installation could be a factor in the event of a fire.

How these new requirements will be implemented is still being worked on and the proposals will be included as part of formal consultation in Spring 2014.

As more information on this becomes available it will be put on this page and circulated via the ebulletin which you can sign up to.

Further enquiries

If you have a question that has not been covered by any of the information on these pages please email Seveso.III.Enquiries@hse.gsi.gov.uk. This account can also be used to submit any comments or suggestions on the information provided or to seek further information on queries that have not been answered here.

Please note however that although the account is monitored and all correspondence is read, you may not necessarily receive a direct response.

Updated: 2014-08-19