Canvey Island and Hazardous Industry policy nearly received the Brush off!

The Local Plan Task and finish group met to discuss policies surrounding the hazardous industries on Canvey Island.
It was interesting to note that of the two policies concerning Port related activities and that of Waterborne freight, both policies were altered so as to reflect the representations of the port of London Authority, Oikos and calor gas!
The third policy, relating to Developments near Hazardous Uses, was not objected to by PLA or Calor, with just OIKOS registering support for the policy. Castle Point Council therefore suggested that the policy required no amendments.
Proof enough for residents to examine the policy.
A map was shown to councillors illustrating the zones around the two hazardous sites. Each zone controlled whether housing or other development was allowed. The inner zone = no development, the middle zone = limited development, the outer zone = development allowed generally speaking. In other words these are the minimum permitted Government (HSE) limited distance for development.
In the light of the Buncefield enquiry there is a recommendation that these zones are extended further from the hazardous sites.
CPBC new Local Plan seeks to approve policy, ahead of any new HSE recommendation based on the existing zonal limits.
I will use an analogy.
An employer makes an employee, of many years dedicated service, redundant. The employer limits the redundancy package to the Government minimum settlement. That would infer that the employer is unconcerned whether he is considered an employer of good reputation.
Likewise a local authority seeks to develop new housing as near to a hazardous industrial site as the government minimum distances allow, possibly risking the well-being of future residents having bought these new houses should an incident occur. That would infer that the Local Authority is unconcerned whether it is considered a council of good reputation!
The outcome of the meeting was that the particular policy decision was deferred and that the CIIP member should return with recommended wording changes to the policy.
Other members refused to accept or read the short documentation that was offered by cllr Watson.
For those interested, and not among the 4 residents that made the journey to the council chamber for the meeting, here is that document;
Recommendation and Support Rationale

7.4 Actions for the Task and Finish Group Policy NE12

Insufficient weight has been given to the residual risk and risk ramifications emanating from the Top Tier COMAH sites and how this could impact on the societal risk to the community of Canvey Island.

Extract from
Buncefield Major Incident Investigation Board.
Recommendation on Land Use Planning and Control of Societal Risk around Major Hazardous Sites.

Role of planning authorities

52 The planning authorities take decisions on planning applications having taken into account the interests of the local community (both business and residential), the interests of the developer and relevant safety and environmental considerations. This includes advice from HSE regarding developments within the consultation distance of a major hazard site. Of recent years this advice has been available in the vast majority of cases through a software tool developed by HSE. This is known as PADHI (Planning Advice for Developments near Hazardous Installations).

53 HSE advice, though, only takes account of the potential to cause human harm because its remit is limited to occupational health and safety. No account is taken of damage to property and disruption to personal lives and economic activity, but we believe it should and that the Buncefield event amply demonstrates why. If a wider view of ‘harm’ is taken, then the planning authority will need to seek advice from other organisations in addition to HSE.

54 The above briefly illustrates the complexity of the decisions planning authorities can be faced with. There is guidance to planning authorities in the various administrations on how to balance the various considerations in reaching their decisions, but not sufficient guidance on how to balance safety clarity and transparency considerations in relation to other issues around major hazard sites – there needs to be greater clarity and transparency over how decisions are reached. Decisions that will increase the population around major hazard sites should be clearly explained to all those affected. More resources may be required to assist planning authorities to interpret specialist advice and to fully understand the wider impacts of their decisions.

Recommendation
That further work be undertaken that ensures that “no stone is left unturned” in considering the implication of Land Use Planning and the corresponding Societal Risk emanating from a major incident at the COMAH sites on Canvey Island. The New Local Plan must give full consideration and deliberation to ensure that the concerns expressed by our community are further fully examined.

The following are some examples of the documentation available to the Authority from which to base a conclusion that sufficient work has been undertaken.

1.“Buncefield Major Incident Investigation Board.”
Recommendation on Land Use Planning and Control of Societal Risk around Major Hazardous Sites.

The extract on page 1 is an example as to why this document needs to be examined and its recommendations fully considered.

2.“The Community Risk Register.”

The relevant community risk register has previously provided risk assessments which include the likelihood and potential impact emanating from the types of hazardous substances found at the COMAH installations on Canvey Island. Information being expressed for the storage of LPG has in the past identified a considerable number of potential casualties beyond the site boundaries following a credible accident. Incidents resulting from malicious events have not been considered.

3.“Information contained in specific COMAH site Safety Reports”.

Whilst there may be some sensitive factors for disclosure contained within these reports, it is in the public interest that they are fully informed about the potential environmental and health and safety issues of major accidents at fuel storage terminals. This will allow the public to make informed decisions about where they choose to live and work.

It must be clearly understood that it would be inappropriate that some factors, specifically relating to the number of Population at Risk, to be disclosed within this forum. It must also be understood that those aspects contained within Safety Reports that would have an adverse impact on public safety and national security should be considered elsewhere.

4.“Seveso Directive.”

Essentially these European Directives have the specific objective of controlling certain new developments to maintain adequate separation, including residential area, buildings and areas of public use around major hazards when the development is such as to increase the risk or consequences of a major accident.
In essence, decision-makers should ensure that new development does not significantly worsen the situation should a major accident occur

Conclusion

The New Local Plan has not provided evidence that justifies the proposed increase in the population around major hazard sites. There is no clarity or transparency as to how decisions have been reached. The result of a Do-Not-Advise against resulting from the use of the Planning Advice for Development near Hazardous Installations process, is very limited when assessing the totality of Societal Risk. There is no evidence that the New Local Plan has taken Societal Risk into account when considering Land Use Planning issues. The adoption of the previously stated recommendation, will serve to give a stronger indication that a full examination into the subject of societal risk has in fact been undertaken. The subject matter referred to here is not exhaustive, indeed Canvey Island has historically been the example as to where Societal Risk has given cause for concern.

I therefore direct members to the recommendation included within Page 2 of this document.

Again, so as to bring the gravity of this subject and the concerns for Canvey residents, I make no excuse for again including the link to the Buncefield incident and its impact on a resident

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One response to “Canvey Island and Hazardous Industry policy nearly received the Brush off!

  1. Yes, a poor turnout at the council Offices. However, to unwell to attend, I did watch the procedings on the Live Webcam, as I’m sure other interested parties did also.

    One comment that I would like to make is that, Steve Rogers referred to the Consultaion responses by Residents. How can he quantify the responses when these proposals has not come forwards when the Consultation Papers were distributed?
    NIce Comment by Cllr. Smith ” (About the Resients) Do they really matter?
    Was this his attempt at humour?

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