Local authority assent
Local authority assent is covered by regulation 14 of the Explosives Regulations 2014 (ER2014)
The purpose of the local authority assent process
The purpose of the local authority assent process is for the local authority to satisfy itself that any local factors bearing on the safety of the operation of the site or the health and safety of members of the public have been considered and taken into account by HSE in setting the licence conditions. Only evidence on these issues should be regarded as relevant to the authority’s decision. Issues concerning the appropriateness of development at the site should be considered as part of the planning process.
The local authority will be asked to consider whether there are any local factors which could affect the safety of the operations or the safety of those in the area in the event of a fire or explosion. Such factors would include:
- bulk storage of flammable substances at or in the immediate area of the site
- the presence of hazardous substances at or in the immediate area of the site
- the proximity of telecommunications transmitters
- the presence of methane at the site or at an adjoining site
- the presence at, or in the immediate area of the site, of gas pipelines or high
voltage electricity supply lines or equipment;
- transport access (although where the application involves a parallel application for planning consent the authority may also wish to address such issues through planning controls).
In addition, the local authority may withhold its assent if it believes that the site is not suitable for the manufacture or storage of explosives due to the presence of vulnerable sections of the population (young children, the sick or elderly) in the immediate area of the site, for example if a building housing a school, hospital or old people’s home were immediately adjoining an explosives site. This judgement is one that is more appropriate to the local authority than to HSE
When do I need local authority assent?
Most licences granted by HSE and ONR will require local authority assent, as well as a licence from HSE or ONR. The exceptions are listed in Regulation 13(4) of ER 2014. A licence to store less than 2000 kg of explosives at a site does not need local authority assent as long as HSE issues the licence using the distances set out in Schedule 5 of ER2014. If the applicant wishes to vary these distances, or requires a licence to manufacture explosives, then they will need local authority assent.
How do I get local authority assent?
Before applying for local authority assent you should apply to HSE for a licence. Find out more about applying for a licence.
After receiving a licence application, HSE will make enquiries to the local authority for the purposes of identifying and resolving any concerns which otherwise would need to be addressed later in the process. They do not in any way reduce the duty on the applicant to identify any hazards arising from the proposed undertaking, and identify those people who might be affected and how they might be affected. The applicant must carry out any necessary ‘due diligence’ enquiries for this purpose.
Assuming that the information provided by the local authority indicates that the application can be taken to the next stage, HSE will agree a draft licence with the applicant, taking into account any considerations drawn to its attention by the local authority. Once agreement on the draft licence has been reached it will be formally submitted by the applicant to the local authority in order to seek assent.The applicant must send a copy of the draft licence, application and the information that Explosives Inspectorate instructs them to send to their local authority, requesting a day to be appointed for the formal application for assent.
Within 28 days of sending these documents to the local authority, the applicant must publish a notice in a local newspaper in the area where the where the manufacture or storage of explosives is proposed to take place.
This notice must:
- give details of the application
- invite representations on matters affecting the health and safety of people other than the applicant’s employees to be made in writing to the local authority within 28 days of the date that the notice is first published and
- give an address within the area of the local authority at which a copy of the application and draft licence may be inspected and the address of the local authority to which any representations should be sent.
The applicant has to take other reasonable steps to inform everyone who lives or carries on a business or other undertaking within the public consultation zone. Reasonable steps would include writing to or leafleting those affected. Where coverage could be assured, it may also be appropriate to use social media or community websites. The consultation zone covers an area ‘extending to twice the proposed separation distance of the proposed site’. In practice, this area can be taken to extend to twice the largest outside buildings and works distance specified in the building schedule of the draft licence .
The local authority must send a copy of any representations to the applicant as soon as reasonably practicable after receiving them
If, following publication, the local authority has received no objections to the application it may, after 28 days, assent to the application without holding a hearing.
If it decides a hearing is required, the local authority must, before deciding whether to assent to the application, hold a public hearing within four months of receiving the draft licence and application from the applicant. In considering whether to assent, the local authority must have regard only to health and safety matters.
The local authority must, not less than 28 days before the assent hearing, publish notice of the date; time and place fixed for the hearing in a local newspaper send a copy of the notice to:
- the applicant
- any person who made representations in response to the notice published by the applicant
- the relevant licensing Authority
Within 7 days of the notice being published.
If there are any objections to the application, the HSE inspector who is dealing with the licence may be present at the hearing to deal with any technical questions which might arise or to explain anything in connection with the licence.
If the application is for the variation of an existing explosives licence, the inspector may inform the local authority that assent is not required when judged against the criteria in regulation 16(4) of ER 2014. The inspector will ask that the local authority confirms if it agrees or disagrees that assent is not required in writing.
The local authority must notify the applicant and the licensing authority of its decision within 7 days of making it.
The applicant must pay a fee direct to the local authority for the performance by that authority of their functions; the fee must not exceed the sum of the costs reasonably incurred by that authority in performing those functions.