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Hazardous Substances: Planning Permission

Volume 463: debated on Monday 23 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what advice her Department gives on the siting of control of major accident hazards sites to planning authorities and inspectors; (149733)

(2) how many control of major accident hazards site applications were (a) made and (b) appealed against in each of the last 10 years;

(3) what estimate she has made of the safe distance for separation for control of major accident hazards sites from (a) residential houses, (b) schools and (c) businesses; and if she will make a statement.

[holding answer 16 May 2007]: Decisions on proposals for development are taken by a local planning authority, or a Planning Inspector, in accordance with its development plan. Decisions are based upon the plans and policies contained within the regional spatial strategy prepared by the regional planning body and local development documents prepared by the local planning authority.

The Town and Country Planning (Regional Planning) (England) Regulations 2004 (SI No. 2203) and the Town and Country Planning (Local Development) (England) Regulations 2004 (SI No. 2204) specify the form and content of regional spatial strategies and development plan documents. In preparing their plans, planning bodies are required to have regard to the objectives of preventing major accidents and of limiting the consequences of such accidents; and to the need, in the long term, to maintain appropriate distances between major accident hazards sites and residential areas and other locations frequented by the public.

Guidance issued in Planning Policy Statement 12 on Local Development Frameworks makes clear that, in preparing or reviewing local development documents, local planning authorities need to ensure that they include a policy or policies on the location of establishments where hazardous substances are used or stored, and on the development of land within the vicinity of such establishments. Article 10 of the Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure Order) 1995 requires a local planning authority to consult the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency before determining planning applications for new major accident hazard sites, or for modifications to existing sites. They must also consult with these bodies when residential and other specified types of development is proposed within an area that the Health and Safety Executive has notified to the local planning authority because of the presence of hazardous substances within the vicinity.

Applications for development of sites that fall within the scope of control of major accident hazards regulations are made to local planning authorities. Records of such applications are not held centrally and the information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

With regard to appropriate separation distances, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 23 July 2007, Official Report, UIN 150808.