Control of hazardous substances

Aberdeen City Council, in its role as planning authority, also has responsibility for administering regulations in relation to the control of hazardous substances.

The relevant primary legislation is the Planning (Hazardous Substances) (Scotland) Act 1997.

The 1997 act is given effect by The Town and Country Planning (Hazardous Substances)(Scotland) Regulations 2015. Guidance on the procedures around hazardous substances consent is available in Scottish Government Circular 3/2015: Planning Controls for Hazardous Substances.

The controls ensure that hazardous substances can be kept or used in significant amounts only after the responsible authorities have had the opportunity to asses the degree of risk arising to persons in the surrounding area and to the environment. Even after all reasonably practicable measures have been taken to ensure compliance with health and safety legislation (e.g. Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974); there will remain the residual risk of an accident which cannot entirely be eliminated.

The purpose of hazardous substances consent is to ensure that this residual risk to people in the vicinity or to the environment is taken into account before a hazardous substance is allowed to be present in a controlled quantity. The extent of this risk will depend upon where and how a hazardous substance is to be present; and the nature of existing and prospective uses of the application site and its surroundings.

Contravention of hazardous substances regulations (e.g. failing to obtain the required consent or failing to comply with the conditions of a consent) could expose people in the surrounding area to serious and immediate risk. Consequently, contravention of the regulations is a criminal offence and the Council has the power to prosecute offenders, which may result in an unlimited fine.

The Regulations require persons to apply for consent from the Council if they propose to have present on their land hazardous substances at or above specified controlled quantities. Any subsequent consent granted, identifies the hazardous substances, the location on site and defines certain conditions of use such as maximum size, temperature and pressure of storage vessels.

The hazardous substances and categories that are subject to controls and the specified controlled quantities at or above which hazardous substances consent is required, are set out in Schedule 1 to the 2015 regulations..

Additionally, if your establishment or site is one that is subject to the requirements of the Seveso II Directive and the Control of Major Hazards (COMAH) regulations, you will need to apply for hazardous substances consent.

The requirement for hazardous substances consent does not override the need for planning permission to be obtained where development of land is also involved. This may arise, for instance, where it is proposed to erect buildings for the storage or processing of hazardous substances. Where both planning permission and hazardous substances consent are required, two separate applications will be necessary.

On receipt of an application, the Council will consult various statutory bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) for their specialist advice, take into account the provisions of the development plan and any other material considerations which may be relevant.

If the Council's decision thereafter is to grant consent, a consultation zone will be placed around the site where the hazardous substances are located. This requires the Council to consult HSE on all proposed future development over a certain size within that zone. HSE will then provide advice as to the suitability of such development in this location, which the Council must then take into account when determining whether to grant planning permission for the proposal.

If you are planning on submitting a hazardous substances consent, it is recommended that you discuss your application with the Planning and Infrastructure service prior to its submission. 

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