asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many requests for advice from planning authorities on major hazard sites were received by the major hazards branch of the Health and Safety Executive in the years 1976–77, and up to 31st March 1978; on how many occasions the major hazards branch (a) advised against development, (b) approved it and (c) advised an amendment to the development; and on how many occasions a public inquiry followed the advice given by the major hazards branch.
I am informed by the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that the numbers of requests for advice from local planning authorities received in the major hazards branch of the Health and Safety Executive in respect of developments at, or in the vicinity of, major hazard sites were 182 in 1976, 324 in 1977, and 114 in the period from January to March 1978.The purpose of these informal arrangements is to provide an appraisal of the safety implications of the proposed developments in order to assist local planning authorities in reaching decisions on the planning applications. As a result of these appraisals, and in the light of subsequent discussions with HSE specialist inspectors, the development proposals were modified in a significant number of cases. It would involve a disproportionate amount of effort to establish the precise numbers involved. During the period in question, four developments involving major hazard sites were the subject of public inquiries.