Tag Archives: HSE

Dates, Canvey Islanders won’t even Notice! Thorney Bay’s, on its way!

Canvey Islanders, it is said, haven’t the nous to have a cynical thought cross their little minds.

Firstly, following the Election announcement on the very last day prior to the period of Purdah commencing, the Jotmans Farm Appeal Inquiry was Rejected by the then Secretary of State, thereby saving important mainland Green Belt from development.

Secondly, tomorrow, 6.6.2017, just 2 Days prior to the General Election, castle point council development committee will decide the Recommended Approval “first phase” of the Thorney Bay vast green field development, on Canvey Island.

Thorney Bay Beach Camp, Canvey Island, Essex

copyright Jason Hawkes

This so called first phase at Thorney Bay amounts to 113 new dwellings.

The development committee Agenda paperwork indicates officers advise :

It is not considered necessary for Members to visit the site prior to determination of the application.

This despite :

To the north of the site is the Local Wildlife Site (LoWS) Thorneyfleet Creek, which comprises a water body with Common Reed and rough grassland; beyond this is residential development. To the east is Public Open Space, in the form of a grassed area and children’s play space. To the south and west is the wider expanse of the Campsite. A water treatment works lies to the west of the wider site and beyond this is the Calor gas terminal. To the south is the Canvey Island Sea Defence, beyond which is the River Thames.

Of the Health and Safety Executive’s comment;

..more than 10% of the housing development area lies within the (Calor Gas Hazardous) middle zone….and HSE Advised Against Granting Planning Permission.

The HSE then go onto excuse the proposed development layout, stipulating that castle point council must not in future use the self regulating facility, instead be referring any future development directly to the HSE!

The Case Officer comment, which will no doubt be pointed out to the planning committee members in the Agenda Paper states; 

Health and Safety Executive  No objection.

As far as potential flooding is concerned, especially as the site is directly reliant on the Canvey Sea wall Defences;

Environment Agency  No objection: following the receipt of a revised FRA, subject to conditions and the satisfaction of the LPA that the proposal will be safe for its lifetime

It should also be noted, should the are become flooded yet again that responsibility has been relieved of the Leal Local Flood Authority (Essex CC.);

It is the applicant’s responsibility to check that they are complying with common law if the drainage scheme proposes to discharge into an off-site ditch/pipe. The applicant should seek consent where appropriate from other downstream riparian landowners. 
The Ministerial Statement made on 18th December 2014 (ref. HCWS161) states that the final decision regarding the viability and reasonableness of maintenance requirements lies with the LPA. It is not within the scope of the LLFA to comment on the overall viability of a scheme.

But of course the Rumours emanating from CPBC is that Thorney Bay will become a Park Home site, So None of these Rules Will Apply!

1,600 static caravans could quite easily become 1,000+ Park Homes, and there is the next Local Plan’s 5 Year Housing Supply.

Let existing Canvey Island residents and future property owners be warned!

We make no apology for over-simplifying these issues but for anybody interested the webcast and recording should be available via;  https://castlepoint.gov.uk/webcasting

The meeting Agenda papers are available via; https://www.castlepoint.gov.uk/agendas-minutes-library

 

“Dear John” Letter from the HSE to Castle Point Council spells a loss of Trust over Thorney Bay!

“WOULD NOT ADVISE AGAINST” Is a phrase that is akin to music to Castle Point Planners ears!

So often does it extinguish any questioning by planning committee members of the extra conditional advice from the HSE, or the Environment Agency, or the Lead Local Flood Authority, when the committee consider Canvey planning applications!

At the Risk of being accused of Scare-mongering, and unlike some that “run with the fox AND hunt with the hounds”,  we prefer to refer to our approach to development as being Cautious, when we refer to Canvey’s constraint issues.

The proposal for the first phase of the Thorney Bay Housing development, cpbc planning application No: 14/0620/FUL, to sit alongside existing caravans is progressing, albeit in an apparently unusual sequence. Given the obvious issue of the neighbouring Calor, Top Tier Comah site, one would have thought that Castle point planners would have made early use of the Health and Safety Executive’s online planning advice app.

It appears however that despite cpbc receiving the planning proposal on the 6th November 2014, no such enquiry was made to the HSE, until the 12th January 2017!

Whilst an initial use of the HSE planning app was made for the original “proposal in principle,” cpbc planning application No: CPT/707/11/OUT, of 600 dwellings plus residential care homes, lodged with cpbc as long ago as 2011, this resulted in an acceptance that 10%, or 60, of the total number of dwellings could be developed within what is labelled the hazardous “middle zone”.

The more “recent” application, for 113 dwellings, sought to use a proportion of the 60 dwellings allowed, sited in the “middle zone,” BUT at a much higher proportion, in relation to the latest planning application, of over 26% !

Rather surprisingly this did not appear to occur to OUR local authority that they might just possibly feel they should refer this percentage level to the HSE!

The developer may indicate the future development phases will have a much lower level of percentage dwellings in the hazardous “middle zone”.

They MAY also find in future these development phases prove unviable without similar high percentage rates, 26%, within the “middle zone,” and having set a precedent within the first phase who could argue?

This seeks higher density development across the whole site, something that would suit developer and the cpbc Local Plan authors equally!

It is somewhat reassuring that the Health and Safety Executive appear to have lost faith in castle point council and with their policy approach towards increasing new residents risk to the exposure to the Hazardous Site.

The HSE have dictated to cpbc that they no longer can take advantage of the HSE’s online Planning Advice App, they have decreed that in future, NOT ONLY ALL future Thorney Bay planning applications which propose development in the “middle zone” must be referred directly to the HSE, but that the 30 dwellings proposed within the current application, is the TOTAL number they will permit!

It appears that Castle Point Council have, at least where the HSE is concerned, used the “Canvey is a Special Case” card once too often!

For those with a more sceptical attitude, we suggest the same may also have led to the problems at Buncefield which led to the events recorded in this resident’s video recording below.

Hindsight can be a wonderful thing, but in the meantime Caution may be the better option and it will be interesting to learn how the cpbc Local Plan Inspector views this approach, should the Plan reach the Examination stage and of course to observe the cpbc development committee’s consideration of the proposal.

 Grateful thanks go to Ian Silverstein for use of his video.

The Castle Point Borough Council planning Devil is in the Detail!

The devil is in the detail, is an idiom that Castle Point Council appear to rely on where development approvals on Canvey Island are concerned!

Far too often development proposal comments by consultees are taken at face value in the support of approval recommendations of the “professional” officers.

Rarely do development Committee members challenge the points of recommendation, simply because of a lack of alternative information.

Within proposal consideration for Calor and Oikos will often be the Health and Safety Executive comment; “Do not Advise Against”.

Within a recent appeal inquiry in Oxford a Do not advise against comment was made by the HSE in regard to a development near a Hazardous site.

However the local authority, UNLIKE Castle Point felt they should seek independent advice, rather than rely on untrained officers taking the HSE at their exact word. The advisor to the Oxford council considered that;

Do not advise against is not the same as saying planning permission must be granted. 

Overall the HSE methodology is designed to identify sites where the HSE feels obliged to advise against planning permission.

However, their only other advice category of do not advise against is not equivalent to supporting the application being granted.

As already established it is quite legitimate for a local planning authority to take a different view on the merits of granting planning permission, so long as the HSE’s advice has been taken into account.

That the HSE disputed some of the advisors comments, was not disputed, what is relevant is that the local authority had attempted to seek objective advice that may not be available amongst local authority officers.

The development in question, is in a less significant Flood Risk Area than that of Canvey Island.

The local authority in Oxford have a shortfall in housing land and under estimated their Objectively Assessed housing need, as is likely to be found in the case of Castle Point’s local plan 2016.

Despite this and the fact that the site in question was for a great deal fewer dwellings than in the case of Thorney Bay, the Oxford local authority turned down the application.

Castle Point of course have approved in principle outline permission for 600 dwellings, a residential institution plus the retention of static caravans and included these numbers within their daft New Local Plan and Local Plan 2016!

This despite the developer having relied on quoting the CPBC’s previous consideration: “The most recent Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) (2011)  indicates a potential range for dwelling units for the site between 378 and 595”

All based upon them achieving a “do not advise against” response from the HSE.

The Environment Agency acknowledge an agreement with Castle Point council in which Canvey is to be treated as a Special Case where Flood Risk and housing development needs for the whole Borough is concerned!

Canvey representatives really do need to start reading the SMALL PRINT where planning proposals are concerned!

  Footnote: Neither of the local Parish nor Town councils concerned in the Oxford case have given any indication that they intend to produce a Neighbourhood plan.  No evidence was submitted of any preliminary works in this regard. 

What a whiff of gas in the Canvey air has uncovered.

The Echo today reports on concerns of Canvey residents following the leakage from Calor Gas last week.

Many issues of concern appear to have been brought to the surface; the lack of information, the lack of a warning system similar to that offered by the Environment Agency should flooding be forecast, the removal of the Canvey warning sirens, the lack of Full Time Fire and Rescue Crews on the Island, and the impossibility of an efficient emergency evacuation of residents.

Castle Point Council insist the emergency plan must remain confidential as it contains sensitive information. It must remain secret as if it were to bee made public information contained within may threaten the security and safety of the site, its staff and local residents.

Despite this Castle Point Council are content to make information and the position of tanks and their purpose for use, available for all on their Planning Portal, in the case of OIKOS!

Testing of the emergency procedures are scheduled to take place in October to satisfy regulations. However these are only a “desk top” exercise.

Cheat

Essex County Council appear to feel that the correct approach were potential major accidents are concerned is to keep Canvey residents uninformed. The approach appears to be, to hope the worst, never happens!

This is not a grown up, responsible and sound way to treat the residents and future residents of Canvey Island!

For the County Council to suggest that “the offsite effects of a major accident (at either, or both, Calor Gas and OIKOS) would be very limited,” is irresponsible to say the least!

We thought lessons had been learned from the Buncefield, Hertfordshire incident in 2005, little sign that Castle Point and Essex County Council accept what just might, might happen to Canvey.

big_mushroom_svg_thumb

The proverbial way mushrooms are grown: “Keep them in the dark and feed them with s**t”

Similar to the threat from Tidal Flooding and Surface Water flooding we are fed assurances that it will never happen to Canvey Island. A quick watch of a Buncefield resident’s video of the effects on his property and the aftermath of that incident should leave you hoping that Castle Point Council, Essex County Council and the first responders are well prepared.

It should also leave you wishing to know how best to respond should similar happen on Canvey Island.

Grateful thanks go to Ian Silverstein for use of his video.

Maurice Richmond wrote in the Echo:

WORRIED families on Canvey claim they have been left in the dark over what to do in the event of a major emergency.

It comes as dozens of residents reported a strong smell of gas in Long Road and Fairlop Avenue areas of the island last Thursday afternoon, prompting them to call both Calor Gas and National Grid in search of answers.

Calor Gas, in Thames Road, confirmed that the smell was caused by a small gas leak with an additive designed to give gas a detectable odour and was in fact harmless.

However despite this, campaigners are worried that a “lack of public information” is putting their safety at risk in the event of a major incident at either one of the island’s top-tier hazardous sites – Calor Gas and OIKOS terminals in Haven Road,

Aresident, of Janette Avenue, lives near to the OIKOS terminal and says he has very limited information on how an evacuation.

He said: “The only thing that we have been told to do is to switch off electricity and gas and to close our windows and wait for information on a wind up radio.

“That doesn’t say how we can evacuate the island in an emergency and even then only some of my neighbours actually know about this. Years ago there was a document telling us what to do, which was called “Advice to Householders.” It documented Canvey Island’s Emergency Procedure.

“I want to know what has happened to it, and what we should be doing if there is a major incident.

Under Health and Safety Executive guidance for Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations 2015 it states that local authorities “must consult the public” when preparing the external emergency plan.”

The regulations add that “a local authority in whose administrative area an upper tier establishment is situated must prepare an external emergency plan specifying the measures to be taken outside the establishment.”

A 61 year old resident, of Haven Road is angry about the lack of information that is available from authorities Suffolk, Plymouth and Medway, but not for Canvey.

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

Local Plan, Leaving “No Stone Unturned,” except for Canvey Island – Under the Shadow of Buncefield

TONIGHT;
A public meeting in which the health, well being and safety of every resident of Canvey Island is to be valued and taken into consideration.

Wednesday 4th March 2015,  the subject of the Hazardous Industries on Canvey Island will be the subject for discussion for the New Local Plan Task and Finish group.

The proposed new Local Plan policy currently reads:

Policy NE 12
Developments near Hazardous Uses
Development proposals will be assessed in accordance with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Guidance where they fall within a consultation zone for one or more hazardous installations. Where the HSE advises against development the planning application will be refused.

It is felt that this is inadequate and falls considerably short of the level of caution that should be applied where further housing development is concerned.

It is intended that a recommendation will be put to the committee that requests that Castle Point Council, in drawing up its Local Plan, acts with caution and adopts a sympathetic viewpoint on the subject of housing development constraints on Canvey Island. The recommendation is due to request:

“That further work be undertaken that ensures that “no stone is left un-turned” 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.”

We do not feel that this is an unreasonable request of councillors and officers and especially the task and Finish group Chairman cllr Smith who is keen that “no stone is left un-turned” in the course of his Local Plan work.

The potential for a similar incident to that as what occurred at Buncefield cannot be ignored at Canvey Island!

“When I tell you to stop,
STOP!”

“Go 10 Miles that way”

“What”

“I’m serious, GO!”

Unfortunately should such an incident occur on Canvey, we are less fortunate, we don’t have 10 miles to go in the opposite direction to safety!

The New local Plan will be Examined for Soundness.
The previous attempt at a Local Plan, the Core Strategy, received criticism on policy CP9 Hazardous Industries, and remained unresolved.
In the Council’s search to reason housing constraints in not being able to fulfil the Borough’s Objectively Assessed Housing Need, this subject, along with Flood Risk, has the most potential to undermine residents investment and well being.
This short film, below, will help focus the mind of residents, councillors and officers ahead of the meeting, on the potential for harm and damage that the failure to observe the appropriate level of caution placed on land use planning at Canvey Island could cause.
We should observe carefully the direction the meeting takes, the commitment councillors display for the safety of residents, especially given the energy levels spent by committee members in defending our precious Green Belt and note the Task and Finish group voting pattern.

The meeting is open to the public, and those wishing to follow the content may view the Council’s webcast via this link HERE.

The short film, below, records the damage and harrowing distress suffered by one household following the event at Buncefield. We must relate to this and be thankful that, so far, similar has not happened on Canvey Island.
Grateful thanks go to Ian Silverstein for use of his video.