Explosives Licensing

The Explosives Regulations 2014 (Amendment) Regulations 2016

The Explosives Regulations 2014 (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (ERAR2016)  came into force in Great Britain (GB) on 20th April 2016 and implement the recast of the civil use explosives directive .  Equivalent requirements will come into force in Northern Ireland in due course.

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ERAR2016 amends and updates the requirements for making civil use explosives available on the EU market and must be read alongside the Explosives Regulations 2014 (ER2014).

Some of the main changes between the requirements in ER 2014 and ERAR2016 include:

  • Clearly defined legal duties for all economic operators  (manufacturers (their authorised representatives), importers and distributors) involved in the supply chain.
  • Clearly defined legal duties for Market Surveillance Authorities (MSAs), such as HSE, in terms of their cooperation with other member states.
  • MSAs, such as HSE, can require corrective action to be taken by economic operators, or commensurate with any risk, can require economic operators to withdraw or recall conforming civil use explosives from the market.
  • Civil use explosives placed on the market must now be accompanied by instructions and safety information, in a language which is easily understood by consumers and end-users. In the UK, this information must be in English.
  • Record keeping duties have now been widened – manufacturers (their authorised representatives) and importers are required to keep a copy of the EU declaration of conformity and technical documentation, in a readable format, at the disposal of the MSA for 10 years.
  • Explicitly brings commercial ‘own use’ of explosives within the scope of conformity assessment.
  • Non-compliance is now explicitly considered as both administrative (i.e. no CE mark applied) and safety based.
  • Makes accreditation the key route for Notified Bodies.

The Explosives Regulations 2014 (ER 2014) came into force on 1 October 2014 and has replaced the Manufacturer Storage of Explosives Regulations (MSER).

ER 2014 consolidates and therefore revokes a number of existing explosives regulations.  It brings together the requirements of health and safety related explosives legislation into a framework based around common topics such as authorisation, safety, security and placing on the market.  As a result of the consolidation the Approved Code of Practice to the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005 (L139) has been withdrawn.  Guidance relating to the security of explosives (HSE Circular 1/2005), and guidance on the placing of civil use explosives on the market (L66) have also been withdrawn. 

A copy of the ER 2014 can be found at www.legislation.gov.uk

The main changes to the regulatory framework include:

  • Merging registrations into the licensing system
  • Allowing local authorities to issue licences up to 5 years, aligning them with equivalent HSE/police-issued licences
  • Extending licensing to address storage of ammonium nitrate blasting intermediate (ANBI)
  • Exceptions for keeping higher hazard and desensitised explosives without a licence have been updated
  • Tables of separation distances have been restructured to better allow for sites with more than one store; the tables have also been revised to cover quantities of explosives greater than 2000kg
  • A revised list of explosives that can be acquired or acquired and kept without an explosives certificate from the police
  • The repeal of the Fireworks Act 1951, as its remaining provisions have been superseded by the Pyrotechnic (Safety) Regulations 2010 can be found at www.legislation.gov.uk 

The Explosives Regulations is supported by two overarching guidance documents L150 the safety of explosives and L151 the security of explosives (see below).

The table below explains where to apply for a licence to manufacture or store explosives.

ActivityLicensing AuthorityEnforcing Authority
Manufacture of explosives Health & Safety Executive (HSE) HSE
Manufacture and storage of any quantity of explosives at Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) regulated sites Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) ONR
Storage of more than 2000kg of explosives HSE HSE
Manufacture and storage of Ammonium Nitrate Blasting Intermediate (ANBI) HSE or ONR (at ONR regulated sites) HSE or ONR (at ONR regulated sites)
Storage of any quantity of explosives on the surface of a mine, whether in a building or not HSE HSE
Storage of any quantity of explosives within a harbour areas HSE HSE
Storage of up to 2000kg of explosives if some of the explosives are either:
  • Smokeless powder, or percussion caps
  • A relevant explosive that requires an explosives certificate* (e.g. blasting explosives or black powder)
  • Ammunition the acquisition of which is regulated or prohibited by virtue of the firearms Act 1968-97
  • Explosives that are to be stored by a person who is a registered firearms dealer
Police Police
Storage of up to 2000kg of other explosives (including fireworks and small arms ammunition) where separation distances can be met, none of which requires and explosives certificate* Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service
Storage of up to 2000kg of explosives where separation distances in Regulation 27 and schedule 5 cannot be met HSE or ONR ( at ONR regulated sites) Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service
Handling explosives in a harbour HSE HSE
On-site mixing n/a HSE
* Explosives that do not require an explosives certificate are listed in

Schedule 2 to the Explosives Regulations 2014 [1]

  

 

NEQ is the quantity of the actual explosive contained within the product and is sometimes also referred to as Net Explosive Content (NEC) or Powder Weight (PW).  For fireworks (or other pyrotechnic articles) if the NEQ weight is not available, then it is taken as being 25% of the gross weight.

Before storing explosives, you will generally need a licence from the appropriate licensing authority.  Information on how to apply for a licence is available below and availble on the HSE website.

Certain quantities of explosive can be kept for short periods of time and/or limited quantities, without the need for a licence.  But the separation distance requirements of the regulations will still need to be met.

Hazard type or description

ER regulation

How much can be kept without a licence (kg net mass)?

Duration of storage

Shooter’s powder 7(2)(a)(i) Up to 10 kg Indefinite
Shooters powder, or

any hazard type 3 or 4 explosive, or desensitised explosive, which is not a relevant explosive, or a combination of hazard type 3 or 4 explosives, or desensitised explosives, which are not relevant explosives; or

a combination of shooters’ powder and any hazard type 3 or 4 explosives, or desensitised explosives, which are not relevant explosives;
7(2)(a)(ii) 5 kg in total Indefinite
Percussion caps or small arms ammunition or a mixture of them 7(2)(a)(iii) 15 kg Indefinite
Hazard Type 1 or 2 explosives regulation 7(2)(b)(i) 7 kg  Up to 24 hours 
A combination of Hazard Type 1 or 2 explosives with explosives of another hazard type regulation 7(2)(b)(ii)
Hazard Type 3 or 4 explosives regulation 7(2)(c) Unlimited Up to 24 hours
Hazard Type 3 explosives consisting of fireworks regulation 7(2)(d)(i), (ii) and (iii)   100 kg   Up to 5 days in their place of intended use  
Shooters' powders
A combination of shooters' powders and Hazard Type 3 and 4 explosives consisting of fireworks
Hazard Type 4 explosives regulation 7(2)(e)(i) 250 kg Up to 5days in their place of intended use

Hazard Type 4 fireworks

regulation 7(2)(e)(ii)

50 kg

Up to 21 days consecutively and not for sale or for use at work

 

The quantities are often marked on the outer packaging but if you are in any doubt as to the Hazard Type or NEQ you should seek advice from your supplier, as responsibility to store in a safe manner and within permitted quantities rests with the licence holder.

ActivityLicensing authorityEnforcing authority
Manufacture of explosives HSE HSE
Manufacture and storage of any quantity of explosives at ONR regulated sites ONR ONR
Storage of more than 2000 kg of explosives HSE HSE
Manufacture and storage of Ammonium Nitrate Blasting Intermediate (ANBI) HSE or ONR (at ONR regulated sites) HSE or ONR (at ONR regulated sites)
Storage of any quantity of explosives on the surface of a mine, whether in a building or not HSE HSE
Storage of any quantity of explosives within a harbour areas HSE HSE
Storage of up to 2000 kg of explosives if some of the explosives are either:
  • smokeless powder, or  percussion caps
  • a relevant explosive that requires an explosives certificate* (eg blasting explosives or black powder)
  • Ammunition the acquisition of which is regulated or prohibited by virtue of the firearms Act 1968-97
  • Explosives that are to be stored by a person who is a registered firearms dealer
Police Police
Storage of up to 2000 kg of other explosives (including fireworks and small arms ammunition) where separation distances can be met, none of which requires and explosives certificate* Local licensing authority Local licensing authority
 Storage of up to 2000 kg of explosives where separation distances in Regulation 27 and schedule 5 cannot be met HSE or ONR (at ONR regulated sites) HSE or ONR (at ONR regulated sites)
Handling explosives in a harbour HSE HSE
On-site mixing n/a HSE

 

Apply for a licence from the local Authority

Contact the licensing authority for the area where the site is located, for advice and an application form. Details on which local authority to apply to, is detailed below. An example of the application form is available to view on the forms page[2].

Apply for a licence from the police

Contact the local explosives liaison officer[3]. For the area where the site is located for advice and an application form.  An example of the application form is available to view on the forms page.

Apply for a licence from HSE

Manufacture of explosives, storage of more than 2000kg of explosives, or Manufacture and storage of ANBI

Before completing the application form (LP41) [4] please read the Memorandum of guidance to applicants [5]
Enclose a draft licence, which must include the following:

  • explosives schedule (lists all explosives which can be present at the site)
  • building schedule(s) (identifies each building, its use, construction, and the nature and maximum quantities of explosives or other dangerous materials present)
  • site plans – two scaled plans:
    • one to scale in the range of 1:1250 to 1:2500 showing the location of the proposed site and surrounding area for at least 2 km in all directions
    • one showing the site layout

If you have further evidence to support the suitability of the proposed site, you should enclose copies of this evidence. Examples include reports of explosives surveys by the MoD’s Explosive Storage and Transport Committee.

If you are applying to vary an existing licence then you must enclose a draft varying licence.

Enclose the relevant application fee[6]. Fees are payable on the scale laid down in the current Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations. There is an initial fee for all licences and a further fee payable for all work done on ER2014 and Ports (DSHAR) licences.

Storage of less than 2000kg of explosives where separation distances can be met

Information on how to apply for a licence for less than 2000kg is available on the forms page[7].

Fees

Current fees for the licensing can be found at the HSE website.

Payment will need to be payable to Cornwall Council before the licensing authority will consider an application.

Send the completed application form and cheque to:

Fire Service - Community Safety Admin
St Austell Community Fire Station
Carlyon Road, St Austell, PL25 4LD

Telephone: 01726 72582
Email: csadmin@fire.cornwall.gov.uk

The Safety of Explosives

This publication is for anyone who has duties under the safety provisions of the Explosives Regulations 2014 (ER2014) (SI 2014/1638).  It is particularly relevant to duty holders such as employers, private individuals and other people manufacturing explosives, storing larger quantities of explosives or storing explosives that present higher hazards or greater risks of initiation.  

Download  L150 - The Safety of Explosives

The Security of Explosives

This publication is for anyone who has duties under the security provisions of the Explosives Regulations 2014 (ER2014).  It is particularly relevant to duty holders:

  • Acquiring, keeping and transferring relevant explosives
  • Manufacturing, storing, transferring and placing on the market civil explosives
  • Manufacturing, possessing or transferring plastic explosives

 

Download  L151 - The Security of Explosives

Both these documents are structured around the fundamental objectives, described as ‘statements of success’ that all duty holders in the industry should achieve in a manner proportionate to their business.