Latest regulatory updates

Last updated 31 August

Kurt Janson

Kurt Janson, Director of the Tourism Alliance, gives a regular update on the latest regulatory changes affecting the hospitality industry. 

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Water use restrictions

With the ongoing dry summer, an increasing number of Water Authorities have introduced water use restrictions, commonly known as “Hosepipe Bans” (although the restrictions can extend to other types of water use and are not just limited to the use of hosepipes).

This article explains the process for introducing water use restrictions and the implications for businesses.

Why are restrictions introduced?

The law on hosepipe bans is contained in the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. Section 36 of this Act allows Water Authorities to ban the use of hosepipes and introduce other restrictions on the use of water if there is, or it’s predicted that there will be, a serious shortage of water for distribution across a certain area. There is no definition or what constitutes “a serious shortage”, so it is up the local Water Authority to make that determination.

However, at a national level, the Environment Agency chairs the National Drought Group (NDG) which comprises the Agency, various Government departments, water companies and key representative groups such as the NFU, the CLA and Natural England. The Environment Agency has the power to declare that any of 14 areas in England have reached drought status and call a NDG meeting to share information on the situation and what needs to be done to protect water supplies.

The NDG can’t, in itself, impose restrictions on water use, but it provides water authorities with information and support they need to make decisions regarding their own restrictions.

Individual Water Authorities make decisions on the level of restrictions that they introduce based on the particular circumstances of areas where they supply water. These restrictions can differ between different Water Authorities and between different catchments under the control of a single Water Authority. Therefore, it is important to find out what restrictions apply in your area, as these may differ from surrounding areas.

Do the restrictions apply to tourism businesses?

It is important to note that Water Authorities do not have the power to impose bans on businesses. The power to do this rests with Government and, specifically, with the Environment Secretary, who can ban the use of water for any non-domestic purpose as they see fit.

At the moment, there are no bans on any form of water use for businesses. However, that said, business should, as closely as possible, try to mirror the rules on domestic water use in order to play their part in conserving water and not drawing criticism for things like watering their lawns when neighbours are banned from doing so.

One final point to be aware of is that if you pay council tax rather than business rates, you will be deemed to be a domestic property rather than a business property and, therefore, you will have to comply with any water use restrictions.

 

Previous updates

A common question during the summer season is whether tourism operators need to have gas powered BBQs checked annually and be certified as “Gas Safe”, as is required for other gas appliances such as stoves and boilers.

 

The short answer to this is that you don’t have to get specific Gas Safe certification for gas BBQs, or other appliances such as gas heaters that run off a gas bottle.

 

The reason for this is that under The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, the definition of a gas appliance is:

 

“gas appliance” means an appliance designed for use by a consumer of gas for heating, lighting, cooking or other purposes for which gas can be used but it does not include a portable or mobile appliance suppled with gas from a cylinder, or the cylinder, pipes and other fittings used for supplying gas to that appliance, save that, for the purposes of regulations 3, 35 and 36 of these Regulations, it does include a portable or mobile space heater supplied with gas from a cylinder, and the cylinder, pipes and other fittings used for supplying gas to that heater

 

This means that all appliances run off a gas bottle are exempt from the legislation and do no need annual Gas Safe certification.

 

However, that said, it is very important to note that regulation 35 still applies. This states that:

 

“It shall be the duty of every employer or self-employed person to ensure that any gas appliance, installation pipework or flue installed at any place of work under his control is maintained in a safe condition so as to prevent risk of injury to any person.”

 

This means that you still have a duty under law to make sure that any gas appliance is safe. The bast way to do this is to include appliances such as gas BBQs and heaters in your mandatory Health and Safety assessment of the property.

 

This assessment should both identify the risk and outline the steps that you take to mitigate that risk, such as regular checks on the appliance’s connections, fittings and pipework. This checking does not need to be undertaken by someone who is Gas Safe registered but, if you had other gas appliances that needed checking, it would make sense to ask your Gas Safe contractor to look over your mobile appliances like BBQs and heaters while they are on the premises.

 

A final thing to remember is that although you are not legally required to write down this health and safety assessment if you have fewer than five employees, I strongly urge you to undertake a written assessment so that you can prove that you were not negligent should there be an accident.

 

You can find more information on legislation relating Product Safety in the Pink Book Online.