As chairman of the Petroleum Enforcement Liaison Group (PELG) I had to postpone a meeting that was due to have taken place at the beginning of January. The reason being that Brexit, followed by the pre-election purdah, had meant that the Health and Safety Executive was unable to agree the actions necessary for the outcomes of the Post Implementation Review (PIR) of the Petroleum Consolidation Regulations 2014.

Although the PIR hadn’t passed through parliament, we have been provided with an overview of its content. The legislation has been found to be ’fit for purpose’. However, the need for both enforcers and site operators to gain a better understanding of the new legislation and how it works alongside the Dangerous Substances Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 was identified. This is to be addressed through additional training and guidance. A further task identified was to create a system through which Petroleum Enforcement Authorities carry out re-inspections of forecourts prioritised on a risk-based strategy. The missed meeting is now set to take place early in March.

Before Christmas I attended an event hosted by the London Fire Brigade where all aspects of safety relating to electric vehicles (EVs) were discussed. I was surprised to learn that although it is unusual and difficult for lithium ion batteries to catch fire, if they do, they are practically impossible to extinguish. There is a phenomenon called ’thermal runaway’. Once one cell of a bank of batteries has caught fire, the bank will continue to ignite until all the stored energy has expired. There is no known way of stopping this. We were shown examples of fire brigades continually dousing electric cars with water and even when the fire appeared to have been extinguished, they reignited, sometimes hours later. Another fact that was revealed by UK Power Networks was that when they are asked to provide a supply of 350kw, which is the power that is beginning to be used in high-end EVs, it is the equivalent of the supply needed for a new housing estate of 150 homes. I conclude that while we may be starting on the road to zero emission vehicles, there is a long way to go.