Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Preventing major accidents at Category A facilities

Preventing pollution at Category A facilities

The Mining Waste Directive (MWD) introduced new requirements for managing extractive waste at mines and quarries, including requirements to prevent major accidents at high risk mining waste facilities.

This guidance applies to Category A mining waste facilities in the UK unless your facility also falls under the requirements of the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (COMAH). If it does fall under COMAH you do not need to comply with this guidance. For information about COMAH, see our COMAH guidance.

Do you have a Category A mining waste facility at your mine or quarry?

Mining waste facilities are classified as Category A (high risk) facilities:

  • if a failure in the structure of a mining waste facility or an incorrect operation at a mining waste facility could cause a major accident, eg where a tip or settlement pond could collapse, or
  • if it contains hazardous waste above a certain threshold, or
  • if it contains dangerous substances above a certain threshold.

For further information, see the European Community decision on the definition of Category A waste facilities.

European Community: EC Decision 2009/337/EC Definition of the criteria for the classification of Category A waste facilities (Adobe PDF - 730 KB)

To find out more about the requirements for waste facilities at mines or quarries, see our guidance on extractive waste.

Managing extractive waste in Northern Ireland and Scotland

What you must do to prevent major accidents

You must take steps to prevent major accidents at your Category A mining waste facility.

On-site activities

Before you start operating a Category A mining waste facility you must:

  • Prepare a major accident prevention policy (MAPP) which explains how you will prevent major accidents at your site.
  • Put into effect a safety management system that:
    - implements your MAPP
    - explains the roles, responsibilities and training needs of employees and contractors that manage major hazards at your facility
    - identifies and assesses all major hazards at your facility
    - has procedures for operating your facility safely
    - explains how you will manage changes to your operations or new facilities
    - includes plans for emergencies which you have tested and reviewed
    - has procedures for carrying out audits, monitoring, reporting and reviews.
  • Prepare an internal emergency plan for what you will do at your site if there is an accident.
  • Appoint a safety manager to carry out and supervise your MAPP.

Your MAPP should also refer to the tipping rules and the stability of your waste deposits, including lagoons and retaining dams. For further information on the tipping rules, contact the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland.

HSE: Mining
HSE: Quarries
HSE Northern Ireland: Quarries and mines

Off-site activities

If you have a Category A mining waste facility, you must provide information about your facility in your planning application.

In Scotland SEPA will pass this information to your local emergency planner who will prepare an off-site emergency plan for dealing with any accidents at your site. Your local emergency planner can send you a notice requesting further information about your site. You must provide this information within the time limit given in the notice.

In Northern Ireland, the Department of the Environment will prepare your off-site emergency plan.

The purpose of the off-site emergency plan is to:

  • contain and control major accidents and other incidents at your site
  • implement measures necessary to protect human health and the environment from the effects of major accidents and other incidents at your site
  • communicate necessary information to the public and the relevant services or authorities in your area
  • set out how you will rehabilitate, restore and clean-up the environment if there is a major accident at your site.

You must supply information to your local emergency planner or the Department of the Environment (Northern Ireland) if there is a major accident at your site and provide information to the public about safety measures at your site. You must also follow all guidance issued by your regulator in the event of an accident and continue to provide them with information until the incident is concluded.

Additional resources


Video Case Study: How to Prepare an Emergency Response for Your Business


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