Interpretation of the implications of the Seveso II Directive - on the prevention of major accidents - is now made easier with the publication of two guides on inspections and land use planning. The Institute for Systems Informatics and Safety, of the Major Accident Hazards Bureau of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, has recently published the two guides, to assist with interpretation of the European Council Directive 96/82/EC (Seveso II). One of the booklets gives guidance on land use planning and the other gives guidance on inspections as required by Article 18 of the Directive, which was endorsed in 1996. The Seveso II Directive refers to the control of major accident hazards involving dangerous substances. It aims to prevent major accidents and limit their consequences. It is directed to ensure consistently effective and high levels of protection throughout the European Community. The Directive calls for planning policies to ensure the building of establishments covered by the Directive at appropriate distances from residential areas, areas used by the public or areas of particular natural sensitivity or interest. The Directive is also the legal instrument for the implementation of the UN/ECE Convention on the transboundary effects of industrial accidents, which was approved by the Council of the European Union in March 1998. The guidance document on land-use planning is therefore intended to assist with the interpretation of the land-use planning requirements laid down in the Seveso II Directive and also, where relevant, the UN/ECE Convention. The information booklet on guidance for inspections is to help with interpretations of the Directive's requirement that Member States ensure that the competent authorities organize a system of ongoing inspection, or other methods of control. These are meant to check whether operators are complying with their duties as required by the Directive. The systems for inspection laid down in the Seveso II Directive set out to establish a homogenous level of inspection throughout the Community. The document focuses mainly on the organization and principles of inspections as required by the Directive. However, it is not intended to be a comprehensive general guide on 'how to inspect'. Equally, these guides are not tools of legislation and are not mandatory. They do not preclude other reasonable interpretations of the Directive. The guidance notes on land-use planning include information on: - Taking account of 'the objectives of preventing major accidents and limiting their consequences' in planning policies and controls; - Technical advice; - A review of existing approaches for land-use planning. The guidance notes on Inspections contain information on: - The objectives of inspections / control measures; - The organisation of inspections / control measures; - A system of inspections; - Other measures of control; -The 'content' of inspections / control measures; - Related matters.