The Scottish Government is currently consulting on implementation of the land use planning elements of European Directive 2012/18/EU (the SEVESO III Directive) on the control of major- accident hazards involving dangerous substances (referred to as hazardous substances in local law).
Consultation occurred in 2014 in England and Wales.
The SEVESO III Directive aims to reduce the risks and consequences of major- accidents.
The land use planning elements relate to taking account of the aims of the SEVESO III Directive in planning policies and decisions, including maintaining appropriate safety distances between major hazard sites (referred to as establishments) and other development and protecting areas of natural sensitivity.
The Scottish Government is required to implement the land use planning aspects of the Directive by 1 June 2015.
1 June 2015 is also the date by which other jurisdictions in the UK, and other Member States must implement SEVESO III.
The main reason for the new version of this SEVESO III Directive is changes in the European chemical classification system, which are also to be implemented by 1 June 2015. New public participation requirements have also been included in the Directive to bring it into line with the Aarhus Convention.
There is no requirement in the Directive to fundamentally change the existing land use planning framework regarding hazardous substances consent. Operators will still be required to apply to the planning authority for consent for hazardous substances at or above set amounts (controlled quantities).
This is the case also in England and Wales (and in Northern Ireland).
In Scotland, the planning authority will continue to consult with key agencies, such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and there will be public participation in decision making.
Where the planning authority grant planning hazardous substances (PHS) consent, HSE will continue to designate consultation zones to guide and inform consideration of the location of future development near establishments.
The main changes being made in implementing the Directive include:
– A new schedule of substances and thresholds requiring hazardous substances consent and related transitional arrangements regarding consents.
– Amendment of application and appeal procedures for PHS consent and for those planning permission cases within scope of the Directive to reflect public participation requirements.
The Scottish Government is also taking the opportunity to bring PHS consent procedures further into line with modernised planning procedures.
The Town and Country Planning (Hazardous Substances) (Scotland) Regulations 2015 will be issued (and similar in England and Wales, and separately in Northern Ireland), with PHS consent and appeal provisions etc., as well as related amendments to other planning legislation (Scotland).
The Scottish Government’s consultation document is here.