Control of major accident hazards (COMAH) regulatory position statement

A temporary regulatory position statement for businesses regulated under COMAH has been developed for Scotland, for use during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

SEPA expects people to have business continuity arrangements in place to ensure compliance with their SEPA permit or other environmental regulatory requirements during EU Exit and COVID-19.  We are clear we expect everyone we regulate to continue to comply with Scotland’s environmental laws. 

Where compliance with a SEPA Permit or other regulatory requirement is not possible for an individual site(s), a type of activity or for a sector, we may temporarily take a regulatory position that any failure to comply with those requirements will not be treated as a non-compliance for compliance assessment or enforcement purposes. This will be where that non-compliance is unavoidable and solely as a direct result of the impact of EU Exit or COVID-19 and will not lead to significant environmental harm.

We are only likely to consider taking a temporary regulatory position if the person contacts us at an early stage to advise us of a non-compliance or potential non-compliance, and we are satisfied that:

  • they have taken all reasonable steps to try and maintain compliance;
  • they will adequately manage any risks of harm to the environment or human health arising from the non- compliance.

If we take a temporary regulatory position we expect the person to:

  1. Tell us as soon as possible when they have, or will, become non-compliant;
  2. Comply with conditions attached to a temporary regulatory position
  3. Continue to meet all other Permit conditions or other environmental regulatory requirements not covered by a temporary regulatory position
  4. Return to compliance as quickly as possible. Any temporary regulatory position we take is likely to be time limited (normally to three months) but if the person can return to compliance quicker we will expect them to do so;
  5. Prevent and mitigate harm to the environment or human health;
  6. Follow the waste hierarchy in making waste management decisions and when waste is sent for re-use, recycling or disposal send it to a suitably authorised site.

SEPA expects people to have business continuity arrangements in place to ensure compliance with their SEPA permit or other environmental regulatory requirements during EU Exit and COVID-19.  We are clear we expect everyone we regulate to continue to comply with Scotland’s environmental laws. 

Where compliance with a SEPA Permit or other regulatory requirement is not possible for an individual site(s), a type of activity or for a sector, we may temporarily take a regulatory position that any failure to comply with those requirements will not be treated as a non-compliance for compliance assessment or enforcement purposes. This will be where that non-compliance is unavoidable and solely as a direct result of the impact of EU Exit or COVID-19 and will not lead to significant environmental harm.

This temporary regulatory position for businesses is regulated under the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 2015 (“COMAH regulations”).

Despite the demanding circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for compliance with COMAH remains with operators, and generally there is no capacity within the COMAH Regulations for exemptions. As such, failure to comply with any of the requirements is a breach. However, the joint Competent Authorities (CAs) are acutely aware that we are in extraordinary times and will be pragmatic in using the tools available to us to regulate.

The flexibility within our enforcement frameworks allows us to do that, ensuring that decisions are pragmatic, proportionate and appropriate, and we will exercise this as necessary taking into account the difference between administrative breaches and breaches with a potential major accident hazard risk.

 

Control of major accident hazards (COMAH) regulatory position

Contact information

Our offices are now closed but our people and online services are available to support you.  If you are concerned about maintaining compliance with any aspect of COMAH, please contact either the HSE inspector or SEPA officer for the establishment.

Alternatively, contact us using our online contact form, or contact the Health and Safety Executive.