Ram Brewery inquiry: report from week 3

1 min read

The Health & Safety position seems to be that the risk from the gasholder would be classified as ‘tolerable’ [1].

It is not expected to blow up any day soon. However accidents do happen (6-8 a year) and although there are people living now within the vicinity and subject to this tolerable risk they are in a widely-spaced area. It is unacceptable to add hundreds more in a concentrated mass right next to the gasholder.

HSE would have expected to be consulted on the development before the application went in but they were not. They have expertise on how to minimise the effects of a major accident by suitable building design. A glass-fronted tower full of people is not the best kind of building to have next to a gasholder.

Mr Williams was cross-examined by the QC Mr Harris, endlessly, and in my opinion rather pointlessly. He was trying to discount Mr William’s evidence on how the HSE measured risks and the distances within which they would be serious in terms of loss of life. Since it is admitted that the risk is not high , one wonders what the questioning proved. The fact remains there is a ‘tolerable’ risk and as one can never tell if/when an accident will happen, it is unwise to put a tower full of people at risk.
I left before the end but more HSE issues tomorrow. Timetable in the AGENDA page. Anyone who wants to speak on day 16 must tell Toby Felpham of WBC.

[1] HSE to be consulted on various development proposals including: proposed development in the vicinity of existing hazardous installations where the siting would increase the risk or consequences of a major accident and development within an area that has been notified to the LPA by the HSE because of the presence of hazardous substances and involves:

  • residential
  • more than 250sqm retail floorspace
  • more than 500sqm offices floorspace
  • more than 750sqm floorspace for an industrial purpose
  • transport links
  • or which would be likely to result in a material increase in the number of people working within or visiting the notified area

The HSE note refers to three progress review papers concerning methodology: in May 2002, August 2002 and 2003/04 (MSDU Bulletin) respectively, which were used to clarify the LUP assessment approach to be adopted within the unit until a new siting policy for gasholders is formally agreed.

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