Title: The varying nature of planning decisions for developments near to major hazard facilities in Victoria, Australia

Authors: Ian F. Thomas

Addresses: I F Thomas & Associates, 123 Nelson Place, Williamstown, VIC 3016, Australia

Abstract: This paper tells us why it is important to make wise planning decisions for areas surrounding Major Hazard Facilities (MHFs) by addressing the consequences of some selected events. It describes the virtually unregulated, complex and costly Victorian planning process which occurs in absence of defined separation distances. It cites some examples of decisions known to the author and presents a summary of explosion events which have occurred in the period 1910 to 2013. The paper concludes by suggesting what should be done to rectify the situation. MHF Safety Cases need to be fully accessible to the planning authorities and the courts, preferably also to the general public as was the intent when they were first mooted. This is now an obligation of EU member states following adoption of Directive 2012/18/EU known as Seveso III. Only by so doing, can individuals and authorities know enough about an MHF to decide how close is safe for a proposed activity type. Individuals will then be able to make rational decisions about where to live. It is recommended that appropriate buffer zones based on community safety should be incorporated in Australian planning legislation.

Keywords: major hazard facilities; MHFs; UK Health and Safety Executive; HSE; UVCE; unconfined vapour cloud explosions; tank boilover; development planning; Australia; planning decisions; housing development; safe distance.

DOI: 10.1504/IJFE.2015.075287

International Journal of Forensic Engineering, 2015 Vol.2 No.4, pp.312 - 335

Available online: 09 Mar 2016 *

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