AND

APPLICATION NO: 12/P/0714/HAZ

CASE OFFICER Sally Evans

APPLICANT: The Oil and Pipelines Agency

RECOMMENDATION SUMMARY:

Depends on Consultation advice

PARISH/WARD: Portishead Redcliffe Bay

WARD COUNCILLOR(S): Cllr Mrs Baker

TARGET DATE: 15/06/2012

APPLICATION: Hazardous substance consent for the storage of high flash distillates (aviation fuel kerosene) (minimum flashpoint 38 degrees celsius) within 3no. existing tanks.

SITE ADDRESS: Redcliffe Bay PSD, Down Road, Portishead, BS20 8LB

 

LOCATION PLAN: The following plan shows the general location of the site only and is for illustrative purposes. The circle identifies the location of the site and is not a representation of the site boundaries. The site boundaries and other details submitted with the application can be viewed on the council’s website at www.n-somerset.gov.uk. This map is based upon Ordnance Survey material with the permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of the controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office c. Crown copyright. Unauthorised reproduction infringes Crown copyright and may lead to prosecution or civil proceedings. North Somerset Council, LA09063L,2001

 


 

1.         12/P/0714/HAZ. Hazardous substance consent for the storage of high flash distillates (aviation fuel kerosene) (minimum flashpoint 38 degrees celsius) within 3no. existing tanks. Redcliffe Bay PSD, Down Road, Portishead

 

REFERRED DELEGATED ITEM BY COUNCILLOR MRS Baker

 

Background.

 

This application was reported to the North Area Committee on 13th September. The committee resolved that it be deferred to allow for a meeting to be arranged by the Chief Executive with neighbouring residents and the Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) so that the HSE could respond to queries raised by neighbours about site safety and provide more information about their decision not to object to the application. The HSE are not prepared to attend a meeting but have provided some additional written explanation. The Council is also considering sending additional queries. Any reply received will be reported to committee.

 

The September North Area Committee report is attached in appendix 1 to this report.   

 

Additional consultee comments from the Health and Safety Executive.

 

For sites like this HSE uses the 'protection based' approach to provide advice on applications for consents and Land Use Planning. A representative worst case event which dominates the risk profile is chosen then the consequences of that are modelled. 

 

To produce the 3 zone map, the HSE uses information on the inventory and storage or process conditions of those substances for which hazardous substances consent is sought. For the Redcliffe Bay site, this relates to accidental releases of kerosene, taking into account local topography. Accounting for topography is an unusual step for HSE to take, but one we felt was appropriate at this locality given the pronounced slope on which the site rests. The zones represent the extent of harm from a reasonable worst-case scenario (in this case a pool fire resulting from kerosene spillage) with contours established at 1800 thermal dose units (tdu), 1000tdu and 500tdu for inner-, middle- and outer zones respectively.

 

Based on the particulars of this hazardous substances consent application, (12/P/0714/HAZ) a number of reasonable ‘worst-case scenario’ events were considered, including releases from the pump-house. In this case, the potential thermal harm from events at the pump-house was subsumed by other, more extensive harm that might arise from catastrophic failures, for example in the pipework in the vicinity of the storage vessels and around the site.

 

On completion of our assessment the HSE wrote to North Somerset Council, (dated 10 July 2012) clearly stating that we ‘did not advise against’ the application.

  

In providing advice on Hazardous Substances Consent applications to local authorities, HSE takes into account all off-site development and locations where the public may be exposed to harm from a major accident. At Redcliffe Bay the cliff path does, for a short part of its length, pass through the inner zone. However, the number of people that pass this way, and the length of time that they spend within the zones described by the 3 Zone Map do not represent a sufficient factor in this case.  

 

The 3 zone map issued by HSE in July 2012 results in some slight changes to the Consultation Distance for the site (compared to the previous version issued in March 2011). We would not expect the Oil and Pipelines Agency to alter its emergency plan on the basis of this consent application.

 

Principal Planning Issues

 

The principal planning issues are detailed in the attached report for the September committee.

 

Conclusion

 

The Health and Safety Executive is a statutory consultee for applications for hazardous substances consent. It’s role is to provide expert advice on health and safety issues that arise from proposals, including risks to neighbouring residents. The HSE have clearly stated that they have undertaken a detailed assessment of the site and the potential impacts from this proposal to store additional kerosene in 3 of the existing part underground tanks and they have concluded that the application is acceptable. The Council’s Emergency Planning Manager has not raised objections to the proposal.

 

As the Hazardous Substances Authority, North Somerset Council decides applications for Hazardous Substances consent. The applicants would have a right of appeal against any refusal. The Council has carried out the required consultations and consultees have not objected to the application subject to the conditions below.

 

Approval does not prevent the Council dealing with the unauthorised use of tanks 14 & 15. It is therefore considered that there are no material considerations why the application should not be approved.  

 

RECOMMENDATION: The application be APPROVED subject to the following conditions:

 

1.     

The consent hereby permitted shall be begun before the expiration of three years from the date of this approval.

 

Reason: In accordance with the provisions of Section 9 (1) of the Planning (Hazardous Substances) Act 1990.

2.

The Hazardous substances shall not be kept or used other than in accordance with the particulars provided on the application forms including supporting information provided in the Fisher German letter dated 15 June 2012 (and revised substance location plan drawing no 3 rev A) nor outside the areas marked for storage of the substances on the maps and plans that formed part of the application.

 

Reason: In accordance with the provisions of Section 9 (1) and (4) of the Planning (Hazardous Substances) Act 1990 and to ensure no adverse impacts on neighbouring residents in accordance with policy CS3 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.

 

3.

The hazardous substance permitted to be stored on site under this consent is restricted to a maximum of 21,010 tonnes of refined aviation fuel kerosene (min. flashpoint 38 degrees Celsius).

 

Reason. In accordance with the provisions of Section 9 (1) and (4) of the Planning (Hazardous Substances) Act 1990 and to ensure no adverse impacts on neighbouring residents in accordance with policy CS3 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.

 

 

 

 

 


Appendix - Report to North Area Committee 13 September 2012

 

APPLICATION NO: 12/P/0714/HAZ

CASE OFFICER Sally Evans

APPLICANT: The Oil and Pipelines Agency

RECOMMENDATION SUMMARY:

Depends on Consultation advice

PARISH/WARD: Portishead Redcliffe Bay

WARD COUNCILLOR(S): Cllr Mrs Baker

TARGET DATE: 15/06/2012

APPLICATION: Hazardous substance consent for the storage of high flash distillates (aviation fuel kerosene) (minimum flashpoint 38 degrees celsius) within 3no. existing tanks.

SITE ADDRESS: Redcliffe Bay PSD, Down Road, Portishead, BS20 8LB

 

LOCATION PLAN: The following plan shows the general location of the site only and is for illustrative purposes. The circle identifies the location of the site and is not a representation of the site boundaries. The site boundaries and other details submitted with the application can be viewed on the council’s website at www.n-somerset.gov.uk. This map is based upon Ordnance Survey material with the permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of the controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office c. Crown copyright. Unauthorised reproduction infringes Crown copyright and may lead to prosecution or civil proceedings. North Somerset Council, LA09063L,2001

 


 

 


3.         12/P/0714/HAZ. Hazardous substance consent for the storage of high flash distillates (aviation fuel kerosene) (minimum flashpoint 38 degrees celsius) within 3no. existing tanks. Redcliffe Bay PSD, Down Road, Portishead

 

REFERRED DELEGATED ITEM BY COUNCILLOR MRS Baker

 

The Site

 

Redcliffe Bay is a top tier COMAH Regulations site (Control of Major Accidents and Hazards Regulation). This is because it exceeds the maximum threshold of 25,000 tonnes of Aviation fuel (kerosene).

 

The site is adjacent to the Severn Estuary (SSSI) and the coastal footpath at the west; a mobile home park at the east; residential developments at Waterside Park and Charlcombe Bay at the north and east and agricultural land to the south. It houses 15 grass covered and part underground storage tanks, a pump house, above ground pipelines, a small office and ancillary buildings and equipment. It is linked to a national network of aviation fuel supply via pipeline. The fuel supplies are for commercial and military purposes. The site was originally supplied by oil tanker ships from the Severn Estuary which has now ceased.

 

Vehicular access is from a steep private road off Down Road, Redcliffe Bay which is also used by the residents of the adjacent mobile home park. The site was built between 1953-57 and was originally designated as a Civilian Storage Reserve. It was designed to house four grades of white oils (including gasolines) and three grades of black (less refined) oils. The tanks were then refurbished and used for the storage of various petrochemicals and then left empty for the early 1980’s. Following a period of partial usage, in the early 1990’s the site was put into reserve. It was then part refurbished and part bought back into use between 2003– 2005. An application was made in 2006 for Deemed consent for the reuse of the site for aviation fuel storage. This application was flawed and was revoked and modified by the Secretary of State in 2010 to reflect the known use of the site. The Modified Deemed consent granted in January 2011 allows for tanks numbers 6, 7, 8, 10 and 11 to be used for the storage of 42,948 cubic metres of Aviation Fuel Kerosene (minimum flashpoint 38 degrees Celsius).

 

Since then the OPA have been exploring options for reusing other parts of the site. They also consider that the  Modification order should have included use of the two smallest tanks on site (no’s 14 & 15) for the storage of ‘slops’, i.e. waste material from the larger storage tanks. However the OPA did not raise this with the Secretary of State when the modification order was being considered. It is understood that these tanks are currently in use on an occasional basis. This is

 

being investigated and may result in enforcement proceedings. Alternative options for the storage of this waste pending removal from the site for recycling are also being considered.

 

There is a hard surfaced area of land east of the site and adjacent to the access road. This has been used by the OPA as a vehicle parking area although it is understood they have no legal right to do so. An application was submitted in May 2011 to construct three mobile homes on the land (11/P/1087/F) which was refused by the Council but was granted consent following an appeal by the applicant. The land is outside the Hazardous substances site consultation zones produced by the Health and Safety Executive, which define areas where the HSE consider there is potential risk to new development from existing hazardous sites.  The HSE had not objected to the application for the mobile homes. It should be noted that the HSE have recently recalculated the consultation zones to take the site’s topography into account. This has no impact on the appeal site.

 

Following a site safety exercise in November 2012 the OPA implemented improvements to safety features at the site, including the creation of a secondary vehicle access, and the HSE served an improvement notice on the OPA which resulted in one of the larger tanks (no 12) being converted to store water to be used for fire fighting should the need arise.

 

The Application

 

This application is to bring three of the existing tanks, no’s 4, 5 and 9, back into use to store aviation fuel. The maximum capacity of tanks 4 and 5 is 11,055 cubic metres each. For tank 9 is it 5,484 cubic metres. The total amount to be stored in all three tanks is 21,010 tonnes. The application includes a 30 cubic metres of storage in moveable containers which are tankers used to remove slops from the site periodically. The slops are removed approximately twice per year in four/five tankers visiting the site at the same time. The OPA have confirmed that this arrangement will not change as a result of this consent and that no additional tankers will be required.

 

The amount kerosene proposed to be stored on site means that it is Schedule two development under the 2011 Environment Impact Assessment Regulations. The application has been screened for the need for EIA and it is concluded that on the basis that the application is only to reuse the existing tanks and involves no construction work, then Environmental Impact assessment is not required.


 

Relevant Planning History

 

Year

Reference

Proposal

Decision

2011.

11/P/0311/F

Erection of a public warning siren on existing cctv pole within the Petrol Storage Depot to form part of the Severnside Sirens Warning System to enhance signal reception

Approved

2010

06/P/2975/HZ2

Modification order to Deemed consent. Receipt by pipeline, bulk storage and delivery by pipeline of refined aviation fuel kerosene (min. flashpoint 38 degrees Celsius) maximum amount of 42,948 cubic metres only at Redcliffe Bay PSD, Down Road, Portishead

Approved.

2007

07/P/2587/F

Installation of five odour absorption units each 1.2 diameter x 2.8m high together with interconnecting pipework all mounted on concrete plinths at ground level, Redcliffe Bay Petroleum Storage Depot,  Down Road, Portishead

Approved.

 

Policy Framework

 

The site lies within the Coastal Zone and Forest of Avon and within the settlement boundary for Portishead. It adjoins the coastal footpath, Green Belt, Landscape Character Area (Severn Ridge) and the Severn Estuary which is a designated Wildlife Site of International Importance (RAMSAR and SAC and SPA), Site of Special Scientific Interest and geological site.

 

The main relevant policies are as follows:

 

Development Plan

 

North Somerset Core Strategy (adopted April 2012)

 

CS1      Addressing climate change and carbon reduction

CS3      Environmental Impacts and flood risk.

CS4      Nature Conservation

CS10    Transportation and movement.

CS11     Parking.

CS20     Supporting a successful economy.

CS31     Clevedon, Nailsea and Portishead.

 

North Somerset Replacement Local Plan (NSRLP)(saved policies) (adopted March 2007)

 

Three NSRLP policies were not saved in March 2010. The Core Strategy supersedes some but not all of the policies of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan. It does not supersede the following relevant policies:

 

GDP/3            Promoting good design and sustainable construction

ECH/12          Wildlife sites of international importance.

ECH/13          SSSI’s and NNR’s.

T/7                   Protection, development and improvement of the rights of way                          network and other forms of public access

 

Other material policy guidance

 

National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)(issued March 2012)

 

This sets out the Governments support for the presumption in favour of sustainable development, and the need for the planning system to contribute towards the mutually dependent aims of building the economy (including infrastructure provision), supporting healthy communities and protecting and enhancing the environment.

 

The Framework sets out the Governments main principles for development, which are that planning decisions should be plan led; enhance and improve that places where people live; proactively drive and support sustainable economic development including infrastructure; seek high standards of design and amenity for existing and future occupants of land and buildings; take into account the different roles and character of different areas; support a low carbon future; conserve and enhance the natural environment and encourage the reuse of previously developed land.

 

Paragraph 162 advises that Local Planning authorities should work with other authorities and providers to assess the quality and capacity of infrastructure for energy and its ability to meet forecast demands and take account of the need for strategic infrastructure within their area.

 

The Ministerial Statement “Planning for Growth” published on 31 March 2011 is a material consideration and relevant to this application. It makes clear that the Government’s top priority is to promote sustainable economic growth and jobs except where this would compromise the principles of sustainable development set out in national policy.

 

Consultations

 

Copies of representations received can be viewed on the council’s website.  This report contains summaries only.

 

Environment Agency:  No objection. The site is regulated under the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (as amended) by the Environment Agency and the Environment Agency.

 

Health and Safety Executive (HSE):  The HSE has assessed the risks to the surrounding areas from the likely activities resulting from the granting of this hazardous substances consent application for the storage of 21,010 tonnes of aviation fuel (kerosene minimum flashpoint 38 degrees C).  The assessment assumes that the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 will be met at the site should consent be granted. Subject to the addition of the specified condition, the risks to the existing surrounding population arising from the proposal are so small that there are no significant reasons on safety grounds, for refusing Hazardous substances consent. Should the Hazardous substances authority be minded to grant consent the HSE will revise the 3 zone map (as set out in their letter). It should be noted that this advice does not take into account slops tanks 14 & 15 for which hazardous substances consent has yet to be sought or reconciled, following the revocation/modification of the original deemed consent. The HSE may advise against a hazardous substances consent for tanks 14 & 15 depending on the inventories concerned. The HSE would also bring to the attention of the Hazardous substances and Local planning authority that irrespective of whether or not this application is granted the HSE has set a new consultation zone around the site on the basis of the existing consents as a result of a revised HSE assessment methodology taking into account the site topography and policy.  Should consent be granted the following condition would be beneficial:

 

“The Hazardous substances shall not be kept or used other than in accordance with the particulars provided on the application forms including supporting information provided in the Fisher German letter dated 15 June 2012 (and revised substance location plan drawing no 3 rev A) nor outside the areas marked for storage of the substances on the maps and plans that formed part of the application.”  

 

The Appeal Decision has now been received to allow three additional mobile homes at a site directly north east of the OPA site. This does not have any impact on this application for Hazardous Substances Consent. (It is outside any of the HSE consultation zones, both the previous ones and the new ones.)

 

Natural England:  The site is within 100 m of the boundary with the Severn Estuary Special Protection Area and Special Area of Conservation, Severn Estuary Ramsar site and Site of Special Scientific interest. The proposal falls within the scope of schedule 2 part 6c(ii) of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact) Regulations 2011. It is our understanding that the proposed storage is within an existing facility which will be refurbished but new infrastructure will not be constructed. If there will be no construction work which could impact on the protected site then an EIA will not be required to consider these impacts. However should construction work be involved which may impact on the protected site then an EIA and a Habitats Regulations Assessment may be required.

 

Avon Fire and Rescue: (Officer comment: No comments received to date.)

 

Third Parties: 20 letters of objection have been received.  The principal planning points made are as follows (officer responses to each point are in italics following each point):

 

  • There is a potential for adverse impacts on adjoining land and the proposed use for mobile homes. In addition, if the 3 mobile homes are allowed at appeal this should be taken into account in consideration of this application.

Officer response: The Planning Inspectorate was aware of this application and considered its relevance to the appealed proposal. The HSE is also aware of the appeal decision and has advised that it does not have any implications for this Express Consent application.

 

  • The site’s Safety Plan assumes parking for emergency vehicles on adjoining land on which the OPA have no rights of access and to increase the amount of fuel stored on site without being to implement the site’s Safety plan is an unacceptable hazard.

Officer response: The Council’s Emergency Planning Manager has previously commented that the emergency services have not objected to the potential loss of this unauthorised parking area and are content to either park in the road or at the nearest convenient site. The owner could enclose it and prevent its use without any need for consent from the Local Authority or the OPA. Given that the HSE are content that the following the review of the three zone consultation zone that the application presents no increased risk even allowing for the planned mobile homes, and that Avon Fire and Rescue are content to use alternative parking to access the site, the Emergency Management Officer has no grounds to contradict the HSE’s conclusions. 

 

  • It is contrary to Core Strategy policy CS 3 as it will result in unacceptable hazards to residents.

Officer comment: Policy CS 3 requires that development that will result in harm to amenity, health or safety will only be permitted if the potential adverse effects would be mitigated to an acceptable level by other control regimes or by measures included within the proposals, or by planning conditions. The HSE’s role is to provide expert advice on issues of health and safety and consider that the application is acceptable provided their specified condition it attached to the consent. Officers have no grounds on which to challenge this. 

 

  • Neighbours should have been consulted

      Officer comment: Neighbours have been notified, refer to issue 1.

 

  • The additional tanks will generate odour nuisance and will require air filtration units which have been added on other tanks at the site.

Officer comment: The applicants have expressed their intention to add filtration units to the 3 tanks.

 

  • The issue of the two unauthorised tanks should be decided prior to a decision being made on this application.

Officer comment: The HSE are aware of this and were requested to address it in their assessment of the application. They commented that notwithstanding the two unauthorised tanks they do not object to this application.

 

  • Expansion of the site will increase pressure on the pump house which is a high risk area and close to adjoining residents and should be fully assessed.

Officer comment: The HSE have commented that the pump house has been taken into account in the three zone consultation plans, including the updated one in July 2012 and the one which would be valid should this application be allowed. The revised zoning plans have reduced the size of all the zones affecting properties outside the site boundary and there are now significantly fewer properties in the inner zone (reduced from 14 whole houses to 2.)

 

  • There is no evidence that the current site does not represent an unacceptable risk to neighbours so increases to the use are unacceptable.

Officer comment: The HSE confirms that it does have powers to close hazardous substances site and will use them if this will eliminate an unacceptable risk to the public. At present the HSE does not have such concerns with this site. However this comment was made without a clear understanding of the use of tanks 14 and 15.The HSE also pointed out that Parliament decided that such sites as this could be dealt with under the Deemed Consent procedure and must have taken potential risks into account when they did this.   

 

  • The HSE should advise on and provide risk contour plans (which are different from the 3 zone plans) for the site before a decision is made.

Officer comment: The HSE and Emergency Planning Manager have been requested to comment on this. However the Hazardous Substances Regulations do not require this to be done in order to decide Hazardous substances consent applications.

 

  • An up to date site safety report should be produced before a decision is made.

Officer comment: The COMAH part 3 Regulation 8 identifies the circumstances in which a review and revision of the Site Safety Report should be prepared and sent to the Competent Authority.

 

  • There should be 24 hour staff on site; a recent water leak had to be dealt with by nearby residents.
  • Officer comment: The site is staffed throughout normal working hours and during any pumping activity.   On site CCTV and monitoring remotely from Hallen has always been the preferred option of the OPA and Managing Agents although, it has been suggested that 24hr manning of the site was being considered.   The question is whether following remote monitoring that site intrusion or storage compromise is detected and that on-site response could be achieved in reasonable order.   The Emergency Planning Manager has no evidence to suggest that it could not be achieved nor have HSE) challenged this approach.

 

  • The Council must make a decision by the 8 week deadline or the application will be allowed by default

      Officer comment: This is inaccurate, refer to issue 1.

 

  • The Council should not consult neighbours as the consultations should be carried out by the OPA before the application is submitted.

      Officer comment: Refer to issue 1.

 

  • The Council has no clear procedure or policies for dealing with hazardous substances applications.

      Officer comment: Although this may be helpful it is not a statutory    requirement.

 

  • The assessment of the potential impact from this proposal should include users of the adjacent coastal path.

Officer comment: The HSE have advised that footpaths are used by small numbers of people and do  not present a significant risk for the individual or in terms of societal risk for large numbers of people being exposed to significant harm.

 

Portishead Town Council:          “Portishead Town Council urges North Somerset Council to refuse the application for additional usage of the storage capacity of the site on the following grounds:

 

·        During the Modification Order process granted on 13/1/2011 which modified the original Deemed Consent Application of 7/12/2006, tanks 14 and 15 were omitted, these are currently used as slop tanks.  They are now being operated without any consent; North Somerset Council legal department has confirmed this point.

·        There is an outstanding Planning Application 11/P/1087/F for three additional Park Homes, this is currently under appeal. This application, if approved, would reduce the entrance access for emergency vehicles to Redcliffe Bay Petroleum Storage Depot and also render the area, at present a car park and historically used as an emergency rendezvous point, to become unavailable. This would compromise both the onsite and offsite Emergency Safety Plans for the site.

·        The current Hazardous Substances Consent 12/P/0714/HAZ for the three tanks 4, 5 and 9 would allow for storage a total of 26250 cubic metres of additional product to be stored, a 50% increase. On the substance location plan for this application the units are misleadingly shown as cm3

·        Tank 9, in particular, is in extremely close proximity to several existing Park Homes, owned and lived in by elderly residents. These structures offer little or no protection from thermal radiation as they are of non-traditional construction. This issue has already been highlighted by Ian Wilson representing the Emergency Management Team at North Somerset Council

      (ref email 27/6/2011 between Ian Wilson and James Wemyss(Avon Fire and Rescue))

·        In the event of the approval of 11/P/1087/F then the close proximity, and construction, of the proposed three new Park Homes would mean that the Health and Safety Executive would need to re-evaluate their response to the opening of tanks 4, 5 and 9.

·         This increased storage will lead to more slops being removed from the site by the narrow, local road.

·        Increased storage and resulting essential removal of slops by road tanker will increase the potential for a serious accident.

·        Greater frequency of pumping could put additional pressure on the pumphouse located at the North site boundary within 15m of residential property.  Concern over this area has already resulted in the recent installation of a water curtain to protect nearby properties which has in turn raised further safety issues.

·        Greater frequency of pumping could put additional pressure on the 60 year old pipeline which we believe should be inspected more frequently, currently on a seven year cycle

·        The safety of the pipeline is of particular concern as the route goes through many residential parts of the town and close to at least 3 schools.

·        Currently the site is manned only during normal working hours and when pumping is occurring.  Cover for 24/7 was in operation when the site was in minimal military usage during the 70s. Given the change of use to one that is fully commercial and throughput more frequent, current manning levels are inadequate and inevitably increases the societal risk to residents in close proximity to the site

·        An update should be provided on the long term future plans for the site.

 

In conclusion Hazardous Substances Consent (12/P/0714/HAZ) should not be approved by the Hazardous Substances Authority at North Somerset Council for the following reasons:

 

a)         Portishead Town Council urge North Somerset Council to refuse, because the development of housing/park homes has been permitted in the interim.

 

b)         Portishead Town Council demand that North Somerset Council pursue, as an urgent   Enforcement matter, the outstanding issues referred to.

 

c)         Given that the COMAH Site has been designated, would North Somerset please confirm that their planning policy has been updated to i) preclude any further housing development in the danger zone and ii) to control any development within the site that might have potential to increase the risk to the residents.”

 

Principal Planning Issues

 

The principal planning issues in this case are (1) Principles, sustainability and procedures, 2) Health and Safety, (3) Parish Council and Third Party comments and concerns, (4) Natural Environment considerations and (5) Crime and disorder.


 

Issue 1: Principles, sustainability and application procedures

 

North Somerset Council is the Hazardous Substances Authority (HSA) for the District and therefore the deciding Authority. The Regulations set out that a decision should be made within 8 weeks of receipt of a valid application. After that time and if no decision has been made the applicant can either agree to extend the timescale for decision (which applies to this case) or appeal against non-determination. There is no default that the application will be deemed to be approved if a decision is not made within 8 weeks.

 

The Regulations also do not refer to any requirement for the HSA to notify neighbours nor do they require that they are not notified. The Council notified immediate residents that the application has been submitted which does not breach any requirements in the Regulations. Following complaints from neighbours about the Deemed consent the Local Government Ombudsman required that the Council to ensure that residents are kept up to date with proceedings at the site. This is considered good practice and is consistent with government advice that authorities should be transparent in its decision-making. The neighbouring residents have been notified of the application to accord with this. The decision made by the Hazardous Substances Authority should take into account the advice of the statutory consultees who are the expert advisers and provide technical guidance on the proposals.  It is not recommended that a decision is made without this advice or contrary to it unless there are significant material considerations which support it.

 

Government policy though the NPPF gives weight to the importance of supporting the economy and encouraging economic growth. The OPA have stated that the site is important to ensure that there is sufficient fuel in store for the efficient and continuous running of commercial and military airports and have expressed concern that a delay in deciding this application would provide them with difficulties in fulfilling their obligations to supply Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. The Council’s recently adopted Core Strategy supports the creation of a successful economy through policies CS20 and CS31 which although it specifically relates to development which directly contributes to local employment opportunities and stresses the importance of reusing brownfield land, it is important to note that the healthy wider economy will help to achieve this aim. Therefore there are wider economic issues which support the principle of approval of this application in addition to the general presumption to approve sustainable development and the reuse of brownfield land and transportation of fuel by pipeline as opposed to by road is a more sustainable option. 


 

Environmental Impact Assessment.

The proposal falls within schedule 2 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations (2011) and has been screened to assess if a formal EIA is required. It was concluded that because the application is only to reuse the existing tanks and no construction work is proposed then environmental impacts from the development are likely to be minimal and an Environmental Impact Assessment is not required.

 

Issue 2: Health and safety issues

 

It is unlikely that the amount of residential development in the vicinity of the site will increase significantly in the future. There is open farmland to the south which is outside the settlement boundary and within the Green Belt. Current planning policy does not support large scale housing development to be permitted. Therefore the assessment is made on the basis of existing housing and the three mobile homes which have recently been granted planning consent following an Appeal against the Council’s refusal of the application.

 

The adopted Core Strategy policy CS3 and saved Replacement Local Plan Policy GDP/3 seek to prevent proposals which would result in an unacceptable risk of harm to existing residents if there is no acceptable method of mitigating this through planning conditions or other measures. The HSE and the Council’s Emergency Planning Manager have previously stressed that the construction of this site makes it intrinsically safe, the tanks are double thicknesses of reinforced concrete and are part buried and covered with grass. The site topography is that it slopes away from residential properties and the tanks are surrounded by a bund thus any spills are directed away from houses and towards the collecting channel.

 

Since the Site Safety exercise in November 2010 a number of measures have been undertaken to improve safety, for example the construction of a water curtain which sprays a wall of water to separate the site from the nearest neighbour and which exceeds the height of that house, improvements to the siren and use of one of the tanks to store additional water for fire-fighting. The recent appeal decision has resulted in consent being granted for mobile homes to be constructed on a hard surfaced area previously used by the emergency services but they did not object to this and consider that they can use other nearby land.

 

The site is a top tier COMAH and therefore has a Site Safety report and associated management in operation. The Council’s Emergency Planning Manager works closely with the OPA, HSE and Managing Agents to ensure that site safety complies with the recommendations. He has stressed that kerosene has been demonstrated to be a relatively safe form of petrochemical and is difficult to combust. 

 

The Health and Safety Executive have now carried out a detailed calculation of risks at the site taking into account its steeply sloping topography. They have provided two new three zone consultation plans, one of which will replace the existing plan and is based on the current consent and another which will replace the existing one if this application is approved. Both find that the site is safer than previously thought and propose a smaller area outside the site in the inner zone. They have concluded that the risks to the public associated with this site are acceptable and have suggested a condition be attached to support this. This recommendation does not adversely impact on the Council’s ability to take enforcement action should it be necessary in relation to the unauthorised use of tanks 14 and 15. It is not considered that there are any material considerations which justify the council disagreeing with the HSE and therefore the application is recommended for approval.

 

Issue 3: Third Party and neighbour concerns

 

Neighbours and the Parish Council have raised numerous concerns with the site and this application over a long period. However the site was originally brought into use under the Crown Land Deemed Consent powers granted by the Government which allowed such uses and took no account of their close proximity to existing residential properties.  The site has been used intermittently by the OPA, a Government Agency, since the 1950’s and the Environment Agency has only advised the Council of one environmental impact which was caused by a leak from the site into the Estuary and which was dealt with many years ago. Since then the main complaints have been about odour, which has been dealt with by the addition of Control Units to the hatches at the tops of the tanks in use, and concerns about safety which the HSE and the Council’s Emergency Planning Manager respond to extensively. The report sets out the main issues raised by neighbours and the Parish Council and includes responses to most of the neighbour’s issues. The appeal has now been allowed but Avon Fire and Rescue are clear that they do not require the land the subject of the application for mobile homes, in order to serve the site. The increase in the amount of slops removed from the site by tanker is likely to be minimal, even if this application is approved and the access to Downs Road is private and little used. Visibility from the access road to Downs Road is good and no objections have been raised by officers on these grounds.  

 

The HSE has confirmed that if it considers a site to represent an unacceptable risk to the public it has powers to close it down. It does not consider this is the case at Redcliffe Bay, notwithstanding that the use of tanks 14 and 15 has not been fully evaluated yet. In relation to the Parish Council’s comments it should be noted that Core Strategy policy CS 3 and Replacement Local Plan policy GDP/3 provide sufficient support to refuse applications for development in the HSE’s consultation zones should this be considered necessary but the revised consultation maps have reduced the areas of the zones and make it less likely that this will become necessary at Redcliffe Bay. It is concluded that there are no material considerations which provide grounds to contradict the HSE’s recommendation for this proposal.

 

Issue 4: Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006

 

The Environment Agency has not objected to the application. Natural England consider that as the proposals are to reuse existing part underground tanks and there is no construction is proposed then it is very unlikely that there will be any impacts on the adjacent Severn Estuary designated site.  There are no landscape impacts and impacts on protected species are unlikely. There is no above ground development so an ecological survey is not necessary. Therefore there are no objections on this basis.

 

Issue 5: The Crime and Disorder Act 1998

 

The proposed development should not have a material impact on crime or disorder. The site safety report takes into account security issues and the site was first constructed during the Cold War to a high specification and is surrounded by a security fence. It is not likely that there will be issues arising from this which would merit the application being refused.

 

Conclusion

 

As the Hazardous Substances Authority North Somerset Council decides applications for Express Hazardous Substances consent, although there is a right of appeal against refusal. The Council has powers to add conditions if this is absolutely necessary and also has to enforce them. The consent must set out the maximum amount of the controlled substance being permitted on site at any one time (section 9(4) of the 1990 Act.) Conditions relating to how substances can be kept or used may only be added if this is in accordance with the HSE’s advice. The Council consulted the required bodies for comments on the application and they have not objected to it. Approval does not prevent the Council dealing with the unauthorised use of tanks 14 & 15. It is therefore considered that there are no material considerations why the application should not be approved. 


 

RECOMMENDATION:

 

The application be approved subject to the following conditions:

 

1.

The consent hereby permitted shall be begun before the expiration of three years from the date of this approval.

 

Reason: In accordance with the provisions of Section 9 (1) of the Planning (Hazardous Substances) Act 1990.

2.

The Hazardous substances shall not be kept or used other than in accordance with the particulars provided on the application forms including supporting information provided in the Fisher German letter dated 15 June 2012 (and revised substance location plan drawing no 3 rev A) nor outside the areas marked for storage of the substances on the maps and plans that formed part of the application.

 

Reason: In accordance with the provisions of Section 9 (1) and (4) of the Planning (Hazardous Substances) Act 1990 and to ensure no adverse impacts on neighbouring residents in accordance with policy CS3 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.

3.

The hazardous substance permitted to be stored on site under this consent is restricted to a maximum of 21,010 tonnes of refined aviation fuel kerosene (min. flashpoint 38 degrees Celsius). 

 

Reason. In accordance with the provisions of Section 9 (1) and (4) of the Planning (Hazardous Substances) Act 1990 and to ensure no adverse impacts on neighbouring residents in accordance with policy CS3 of the North Somerset Core Strategy.

 

 

 

UPDATE SHEET

 

Section 1

 

Item 5.1 – 12/P/0714/HAZ – Redcliffe Bay PSD, Down Road, Portishead

 

Third Parties: Further to the agenda papers, officers have been in touch with residents who forwarded a series of questions to which they wanted the HSE to answer.

 

Health and Safety Executive(HSE) responses: Residents’ questions were sent to the HSE and officers at the HSE have responded to these. The questions and responses are set out verbatim below.

 

 

Risks from fires

 

For individuals in the open and near the site boundary, and for a maximum credible pool fire (as in 08 Safety Report), or a stream fire flowing close to the north east boundary:

 

Because of the extreme topology of this site, sloping more steeply than 1 in 7, a suggested stream fire is defined here as a contiguous group of nine ten-metre diameter pool fires.

1.         What is the estimated probability of death per unit time (million years) for:-

 

            a) someone standing on the public road Waterside Park immediately east of the site boundary?

            b) someone standing on the cliff path adjacent to the pump house?

 

HSE Answer

 

This has been previously addressed.  Email to Sally Evans of 16 October:

There are no estimates available for risk of death.  As stated previously:

 

"For sites like this one HSE uses the 'protection based' approach to provide advice on Consents and Land Use Planning."

 

And Para 4 of Mr Murray's letter dated 14 September 2012 to Mr Wheeler (copied to Sally Evans):

 

"The zones represent the extent of harm from a reasonable worst-case scenario, established at 1800, 1000 and 500 tdu."

 

The scenario that has been modelled, a large pool resulting from pipework failure creates a pool in which the flame-front would be closer to the off-site population than a linear fire – HSE's Hazardous Substances Consent/land-use planning advice is based on a more precautionary harm criterion than a linear stream fire.

 

2.         What is the estimated survival time for stationary individuals at these two locations assuming a 1000TDU fatal dose?

 

HSE Answer

 

This is not determined in HSE's LUP advice.  HSE bases its advice on the escape of people who can then seek shelter.

 

3.         Which houses are at risk of spontaneous or piloted ignition as a consequence of a long stream fire starting near the proposed tanks 4, 5 and 9 and separately for tanks 8, 11, 14 and 15 that are currently in use?

 

HSE Answer

 

HSE's LUP advice for this site is not based on the consequence of a 'long stream fire', as explained above and in Para 4 of the letter dated 14 September:

 

"The zones represent the extent of harm from a reasonable worst-case scenario, a poolfire resulting from kerosene spillage...."

 

The proposed tanks 4, 5 and 9 are further aware from housing and will not result in a hazard any worse than that indicated by the current 3-zone map.

 

And, as mentioned in our letter to North Somerset Council (10 July 2012):

 

".... HSE may advise against a Hazardous Substances Consent application for Slops Tanks 14 and 15 depending on the inventories concerned."

 

 

4.         Describe the consequences to people and properties adjacent to the site north-east boundary of a 50metre diameter pool fire centred on the fuel receipt building at the north-east end of the pump house.

 

HSE Answer

 

Major accidents are rare events.  People and buildings within the inner zone boundary would be exposed to a thermal dose of 1800 tdu (or worse).  A dose of 1800 tdu is assumed to lead to a significant likelihood of death, or in other terms >50% fatalities, for a normal population.  This hazard arises from the previous Deemed Consent.

 

Safe distances

 

5.         What are the HSE recommended safe distances from fuel oil pump-houses, exposed pipe formations and tanks, site fuel installations, to private dwellings and public access roads.

 

HSE Answer

 

HSE does not set 'recommended safe distances'.  Advice is based upon the Advisory Committee on Major Hazard (ACMH) principle of providing complete protection from smaller events and worthwhile protection from larger but less probable events.  (ACMH Third Report, 1984, para 165).


 

Risk of pollution of the estuary

 

6.         The Environment Agency criterion for containing fuel leaks is that the capacity of a bund shall be 110% of the largest tanks or source of potential leak.

            The 03 Safety Report states that the earth embankment at the bottom of the site is only 50% effective when containing 1000 tonnes of fuel.  What is the justification for risking the environment by operating the site with this shortcoming?

 

HSE Answer

 

This is a question for the Environment Agency, not HSE.

 

Consent procedures

 

7.         HSE appear not to have followed their own directives of 5/9/12, 9/2/10 and 13/1/11 by not providing 3-zone risk maps showing individual risk contours of say 0.3, 1, and 10 times 10-6 per year with and without the extra tanks.

            How can HSA, a non-technical body in this field, then be expected to judge a consent application without this essential risk data?

 

HSE Answer

 

This has been previously addressed.  As explained in Para 1, email 16/10/2012:

 

"For sites like this one HSE uses the 'protection based' approach to provide advice on Consents and Land Use Planning."

 

Risk data is not essential in this particular case.

 

And, Para 5 of our letter of 14/9/12 to Mr Wheeler, and copied to Sally Evans:

 

"On completion of our assessment HSE wrote to North Somerset Council (dated 10 July 2012) clearly stating that we 'did not advise against' the application."

 

This is because the Express Consent application does not affect the hazards to the public over and above the existing Deemed Consent.


 

8.         It is understood that the so called "PADHI three zone planning advice map" of 10/7/2012" does not relate directly to risk.  As HSA is a non-technical body in this field now can they be expected to use this in the decision process to judge the planning application?

 

HSE Answer

 

This has been previously addressed.

 

Para 5, letter of 14/9/12:

 

"Based on the particulars of the Consent application, 12/P/0714/HAZ, a number of reasonable 'worst case scenario' events were taken into consideration...."

 

And Para 2 of email (16/10/12)

 

"On completion of our assessment HSE wrote to you, North Somerset Council (dated 10 July 2012) clearly stating that we 'did not advise against' the application.

 

PADHI should not be used for Consent applications.  HSE provides case-specific advice."

 

 

9.         For tanks 6, 7, 8, 11 and 12, the HSE stated in December 2010 that "they would not recommend the grant of Consent if the site (facility) was on a green field site."  How then could Express Consent be granted when the existing residential property is contiguous with the site?

            It could not possibly be any closer!

 

HSE Answer

 

Assessment in December 2010 was based on a Deemed Consent application, which HSE does not provide statutory advice on, but simply sets the LUP consultation zones.  Nonetheless we were able to comment on compatibility with off-site development, based on the particulars available at that time.  The 2012 Express Consent application was assessed based on details as provided, which included new information on the site layout.  Hence the revision to the 3-zone map and the advice provided in July 2012.  HSE did not advise against the Express Consent, but North Somerset Council is the decision maker.  The Express Consent application 12/P/0714/HAZ does not affect the hazards.

 

The ACMH recognised that development and major hazard sites must co-exist in GB.


 

 

Buncefield Inquiry Recommendations on safety

 

Statement of facts – The Buncefield fire in December 2005 was the largest fire in peacetime UK.  Subsequently the Health and Safety Executive worked with the Environment Agency as COMAH and produced a detailed report with recommendations.

 

The conclusion states "A detailed investigation into a major incident provides a unique opportunity for the regulator to assess the full managerial processes involved in a particular site.  It is therefore important, when such opportunities arise that the lessons are learnt".

 

Two approaches used in facility assessment are Quantified Risk Assessment (QRA) and (As Low As Reasonably Practical) ALARP.  The latter has societal, commercial and political implications.

 

10.       When will the HSE adopt the recommendation that all consequences should be expressed in terms of the number of fatalities?

 

HSE Answer

 

Buncefield involved petroleum, rather than the less hazardous kerosene at this site.

 

HSE's policy is to use the wider measure of harm, 'Dangerous Dose' which includes fatalities as well as injuries.

 

11.       When will the HSE insist on the OPA applying QRA to different parts of the site ......... allowing combination of the risks to give a total risk in the vicinity of the site?

 

HSE Answer

 

There is no legal requirement for QRA.  HSE's published guidance states that 'the depth of the analysis should be proportionate to the risk' and 'these range from qualitative, through semi-quantitative, up to quantitative'. (SPC/Permissioning/37).

 

12.       When will the accepted best means for studying societal risk .....e.g. full scope QRA and the production and interpretation of F-N curves...... be enforced by the HSE?

 

 

 

HSE Answer

 

The statement in the question is not universally accepted wisdom.  Societal risk is not adopted government policy, nor is it likely to be for lower hazard sites.

 

13.       Will the HSE confirm that the planned new safety report (2013SR?) will be based on QRA and not just ALARP?  It can be assumed that a QRA-based SR would answer all or most of the concerns expressed above.

 

Answer

 

There is no legal requirement for a QRA.  Guidance on ALARP decisions in COMAH is contained in SPC/Permissioning/37.  HSE expects the Safety Report for this site to meet those requirements.

 

Conclusions

The HSE’s response sets out how the HSE approaches applications for Express Consents and the application of various types of information. It seems clear from this that it has followed its normal approach to such applications and its approach is based on what is current government requirements, founded on what is considered to be a balance of good practice and proportionality to the level of risks and a belief that development and major hazard sites must co-exist in this country. A number of the residents’ questions appear to challenge the heart of HSE practice and in officers’ views go beyond what the Council’s considerations can or should be in this case.

 

It is clear that the HSE view Kerosene as significantly less hazardous than petroleum which was the principal stored product at Buncefield. It also sets out its view that major accidents are rare events. It appears that the HSE believes that a balanced approach is therefore necessary and whilst some residents have requested that other forms of risk assessment should be adopted the HSE clarifies that in this area of expertise these alternatives are not universally accepted wisdom.

 

It has reached an assessment of the circumstances that would be created by approval of this application and will not alter its view that it does ‘not advise against’ to use its own slightly awkward terminology. It has also explained that in its judgment it is the 2007 deemed consent application which had to be treated as a matter of factual evidence that has determined the principal level of risk here and that the additional factor of additional tanks being re-opened through this application would be subsumed within that. It will in effect create no worse hazard than that already indicated by the three zone map which is based on the deemed consent.

 

Since the LPA will have to rely on the technical advice of the recognised body that advises on these matters in the UK and it has reaffirmed its advice on several occasions, officers consider it would be unwise to depart from the recommendation of approval set out in the agenda papers. To do so would require a level of expertise in these matters that the authority does not possess in order to defend a refusal. It is unclear what reasons could be advanced, given the HSE’s views. It should also be noted that the Environment Agency did not object to this application.

 

In the light of this thorough explanation officers’ recommendation remains one of approval as set out in the agenda papers.