Many industrial activities involving the use of hazardous substances have potential to cause accidents which may result in serious injury to people or damage to the environment.

Under the Planning (Hazardous Substances) Act 1990, consent must be obtained for the presence of a hazardous substance in an amount at or above its controlled quantity.

The controls are designed to ensure that hazardous substances can be kept or used in significant amounts only after the responsible authorities have had the opportunity to assess the degree of risk arising to persons in the surrounding area. They are concerned with the storage and use of those substances which could, in quantities at or above the specified limits, present major fire, explosion or toxic hazards to people in the vicinity.


In Great Britain, a disastrous explosion at a chemical plant in Flixborough in 1974 profoundly influenced the approach to major hazards. The plant was destroyed, 28 workers were killed and there was extensive damage to property on the site.

More recently an explosion occurred at Buncefield oil depot at Hemel Hempstead on 11 December 2005. Twenty petrol tanks at the depot, which supplies fuel for Heathrow airport, were involved, each said to hold three million gallons of fuel. The explosion resulted in 43 people being injured, two seriously and 2,000 people living near the site being evacuated.

Who controls sites containing hazardous substances?

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Environment Agency

Registered Sites

In the interest of national security the register of this is no longer available. If you have a specific enquiry concerning COMAH (Control of Major Accident Hazards) controlled sites it is recommended that you contact HSE as the lead regulator.

How to contact us

General Customer Enquiries -
Please contact us on:
Email: enquiries@worcsregservices.gov.uk
Telephone: 01905 822799

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Address for Correspondence only

Worcestershire Regulatory Services
Wyre Forest House
Finepoint Way
DY11 7WF