CD291 - Revision of the Gas Safety (Management) Regulations 1996

Closed 21 Mar 2022

Opened 28 Jan 2022

Overview

Purpose of this consultation

This consultation relates to the review of the Gas Safety (Management) Regulations 1996 (GSMR). These regulations apply to the conveyance of natural gas (majority methane and can include ethane, nitrogen, propane and carbon dioxide) through pipes to domestic and other consumers. The regulations cover four main areas:

  1. the safe management of gas flow through a network, particularly those parts supplying domestic consumers, and a duty to minimise the risk of a gas supply emergency
  2. arrangements for dealing with supply emergencies
  3. arrangements for dealing with reported gas escapes and gas incidents and
  4. gas composition

This GSMR review emanated from the ‘Opening up the Gas Market’ report (OGM), commonly known as the Oban Project, after its demonstration of higher Wobbe Number (WN) gas in the community in Oban, Scotland, which has its own independent gas network, known as a Statutory Independent Undertaking (SIU). This work was then built upon by the Gas Quality Working Group (GQWG) which was formed to lead the gathering and demonstration of evidence to support these changes.

The scope of the review was later widened to assess the inclusion of gas with a lower WN than currently permitted and consideration of alternatives to the control of gas content and characteristics which are currently prescribed in Schedule 3 of GSMR. This consultation seeks views on HSE’s assessment of these proposals and its plans to implement them.

Having assessed the current body of safety evidence, HSE has concluded that there are still outstanding safety and practicality questions for some proposals which need to be addressed before making legislative changes. At this stage, HSE is therefore seeking views on the below set of changes:

  1. A new lower Wobbe number (WN) limit
  2. To remove the Incomplete Combustion Factor (ICF) and the Soot Index (SI) limits in Schedule 3 and introduce a relative density of ≤0.700
  3. To incorporate the HSE class exemption limit of ≤1 mol% for oxygen in gases conveyed at pressures up to 38 barg
  4. Clarity that biomethane pipelines are to be considered to be part of the gas network
  5. Clarity that co-operation duties apply to operators of liquefied natural gas (LNG) import facilities
  6. For a general duty on the industry to provide a continuously manned telephone service

These changes would enable:

  • The adaptation of prescriptive GB regulation for gas composition contained in GSMR Schedule 3 that is restricting the sources of gas sitting outside of current specifications being used in the gas transmission and distribution network 
  • A greater diversity of gas resources to be accessed from biogas and across the North Sea including both the United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS) and the Norwegian sector
  • Reduced gas processing, potentially making gas supplies greener and easier to secure and more economically viable
  • Regulations to be updated and modernised in order to ensure safety standards are consistently applied across today’s gas network

These changes contribute to wider strategic Government objectives of security of energy supply and decarbonisation of the energy sector as the UK moves to Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050.

It is also important to note that by law, any changes to health and safety regulations must maintain or improve the health, safety and welfare standards already established and so this is another crucial strategic objective of the GSMR review.

The proposed changes also provide an opportunity to modernise GSMR in parallel to take account of significant changes to the industry since 1996.

Invitation to comment

HSE are seeking the views of interested parties on our proposals for amendments to the Gas Safety (Management) Regulations 1996. These proposals were developed with the help of many stakeholders and we would in particular like to thank the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers and the members of the Gas Quality Working Group for their many contributions.

HSE believes that effective consultation is one element in its open and transparent approach to decision-making. The responses to this consultation exercise will be considered by HSE before the proposals are finalised.

The consultation is available online, please use the link below titled 'give us your views'. If possible, we would prefer to receive responses via the online survey, but if you would prefer to respond in writing please contact us using the details below to arrange.

Written: HSE – GSMR consultation, Energy Policy Team, Health and Safety Executive, 2.2 Redgrave Court, Merton Rd, Bootle, Merseyside, L20 7HS

Email: GSMRConsultation@hse.gov.uk

The consultation will close on 21st March 2022

We will fully acknowledge and consider all responses. We may contact you again if, for example, we have a query in respect of your response.

The Consultation Document

This consultative document is issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). HSE is undertaking this consultation in compliance with its duty to consult under section 50(3) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

HSE tries to make their consultation procedures as thorough and open as possible. A summary of responses to this consultation document will be made available on the consultation webpage after the close of the consultation period where they can be viewed by members of the public.

Information provided in response to this consultation may be subject to publication or disclosure in accordance with the following access to information regimes: the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA); the Data Protection Act 2018; General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR); and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR). Statutory Codes of Practice under the FOIA and EIR also deal with confidentiality obligations, among other things.

If you would like us to treat any of the information you provide as confidential, please explain your reasons for this in your response. If we receive a request under FOIA or EIR for the information you have provided, we will take full account of your explanation, but we cannot give an assurance that confidentiality can be maintained in all circumstances. An automatic confidentiality disclaimer generated by your IT system will be disregarded for these purposes. Requests for confidentiality should be made explicit within the body of the response.

HSE will process all personal data collected as part of this consultation in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations. HSE’s Privacy Policy Statement is available on the HSE website.

Code of Practice on Consultation

HSE is committed to best practice in consultation and to the Government’s Consultation Principles. The Government is improving the way it consults by adopting a more proportionate and targeted approach, so that the type and scale of engagement is proportional to the potential impacts of the proposal. The emphasis is on understanding the effects of a proposal and focussing on real engagement with key groups rather than following a set process.

Additional guidance can be found at GOV.uk

If you require a more accessible format of this document, please send details to HSE.Online@hse.gov.uk and your request will be considered.

Quality assurance and complaints

If you have any complaints about the consultation process (as opposed to comments about the issues, which are the subject of the consultation) please address them to:

Susan Robinson, HSE Consultation Coordinator, 2.2 Redgrave Court, Merton Road, Bootle. L20 7HS

Email: susan.robinson@hse.gov.uk

We aim to reply to all complaints within 10 working days. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can raise the matter with the Information Commissioner’s Office at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF or HSE Chief Executive, Sarah Albon at Health and Safety Executive, Redgrave Court, Merton Road, Bootle, Merseyside, L20 7HS. You can also write and ask your MP to take up your case with us or with Ministers. Your MP may also ask the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (the Ombudsman) to review your complaint.

Audiences

  • Public

Interests

  • Legislation change