What is HSE's role?

The National Planning Policy Framework sets out the government's planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied. HSE has an advisory role in the following areas:

Planning application advice

HSE is a statutory consultee for planning applications around major hazard sites and major accident hazard pipelines.

HSE sets a consultation distance around the major hazard site or major accident hazard pipeline, within which a planning authority must consult HSE over relevant developments which are likely to lead to an increased population around the major hazard.

HSE provides advice on applications for planning permission within these consultation distances through HSE's Planning Advice Web App HSL.

This is an online system which allows planning authorities to input information from the planning application and obtain HSE's advice directly. HSE will advise on safety grounds whether or not planning permission should be granted.

The principles that HSE has developed enable it to provide a quick response to consultations. These principles are based on the findings of the Advisory Committee on Major Hazards (ACMH) and include 'mitigation' of consequences (lessening the effects) of major accidents that may occur after a loss of 'prevention' and 'control'. The overall objective here is to ensure that the element of residual risk is taken into account in planning decisions, as recommended by ACMH. Residual risk is the irreducible minimum level of risk which remains after all legally required preventative measures have been taken at the major hazard.

Developers can also use HSE's Planning Advice Web App to find out if a proposed development lies within the consultation distance of a major hazard, and if it does, they can, for a fee, use the Web App to find out what HSE's advice would be on the proposal.

Fire safety and planning applications

HSE is also a statutory consultee for planning applications that involve or may involve a relevant building.

Find out more about the pre-application advice we can offer about fire safety

Hazardous substances consent advice

HSE is a statutory consultee on applications for hazardous substances consent. Sites which want to hold certain hazardous substances at or above defined limits must obtain hazardous substances consent from the hazardous substances authority (HSA) which is usually the local planning authority.

Applications for consent require details relevant to HSE's role, and an online 'wizard' to guide applicants is available.

Advice for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs)

HSE is a statutory consultee for all Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) in England and for some in Wales.

Advice for Developments of National Significance (DNSs)

HSE is a statutory consultee for all Developments of National Significance (DNSs) in Wales.

Large-scale petrol storage site advice

Following the fire and explosions at the Buncefield Oil Storage Depot in 2005, HSE reviewed its policies for providing land use planning advice around large-scale petrol storage sites. After a consultation exercise, HSE introduced new arrangements for providing land use planning advice on developments around these sites in July 2008, which are set out in HSE circular SPC/Tech/Gen/43.

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Updated: 2024-02-09