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Industrial risk assessment for land-use and emergency planning in the EU

There is considerable experience in the Member States in applying risk assessment techniques for implementation of Seveso II Directive obligations. Specifically, the potential consequences of different scenarios, as estimated within the risk assessment, and in particular in terms of residual risk, are of primary importance in the implementation of provisions within the Seveso II Directive related to land-use planning (Article 12) and emergency planning (various Articles). The Directive does not prescribe the methodologies that should be used to achieve compliance. While there is a strong desire for consistent approaches to Seveso implementation among the Member States, experience has shown that harmonisation of risk assessment approaches is neither feasible nor particular desirable. On the one hand, national approaches may differ considerably on the basis of different historic management and cultural perceptions of risk between countries and also because of the needs presented in particular local situations. For example, the role of land-use planning in risk management depends on its scope according to national legislation. In the traditional form of land use planning, it mainly would be a mitigation tool to reduce the extent of consequences. However, in many countries, it may be implemented in connection with a permit scheme with the possibility to impose technical conditions for new construction to reduce vulnerability. In this usage, it may also then be considered a prevention tool. Risk assessment for land-use planning around industrial establishments can be very sensitive because calculation of high potential risk may limit the resource value of land and in turn the profitability of proprietors and communities.

                 Safety, planning and governance feedbacks in risk planning [1]

Just as importantly, different risk management objectives, e.g. land-use planning vs. emergency planning may often require different risk assessment approaches.   To illustrate, as opposed to risk assessment for land-use planning, aimed at assisting with decisions about the allocation of land resources, risk assessments for emergency planning are aimed at ensuring proper preparation and response. These risk assessments can therefore afford to be more conservative than land-use planning risk assessments. Hence, many authorities will apply a different risk assessment and mapping approach for this purpose. Worst case estimates may in some cases be even desirable. Also, plans are only implemented if an accident occurs, in contrast with land-use planning where actions are taken and resources are allocated on the basis of potential risk. Logistics planning requires taking into account the practicalities of responding to specific types of emergencies in specific areas, for example, figuring out evacuation routes, the boundaries of zones where shelter-in-place might be applied, the location of firefighting stations, medical services, etc. In addition, some authorities are now also applying another kind of risk assessment method for what are being called “public information” zones, for identifying potential needs in preparation for a possible emergency and also once an emergency occurs.

However, as an alternative to EU harmonization of risk assessment approaches, Member States have collaborated in recent years on sharing the technical inputs to risk assessment, such probabilistic data , parameter inputs (e.g., impact thresholds), and consequence analyses models.

 [1]    C. Basta, M. Struckl and M. Christou.  Overview of roadmaps for land-use planning in selected Member States.  European Commission.  Joint Research Centre. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities  2008.  EUR 23519 EN.