These responses are provided as a guide to applicants based on the experience of Adventure RMS and our inspectors. Further clarification and/or questions in relation to specific circumstances should be addressed to the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA) directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that Adventure RMS’s role is to respond to applications and other requests from AALA, and not to provide a direct point of contact for potential applicants, existing licence holders or other parties.
The following responses refer to;
- The Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations (2004) – http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2004/1309/contents/made
- Guidance from the Licensing Authority on the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations 2004 – https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l77.htm
- AALA notes – Links to the AALA webcommunities site are temporarily unavailable
The Activity Centres (Young Persons’ Safety) Act 1995 created the need for a licensing authority to exercise the functions laid down in the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations 1996.
The 1995 Act requires the Secretary of State to designate someone as the licensing authority (AALA) – initially this was the private company TQS Ltd, based in Cardiff. TQS acted as the authority until 2007, when the HSE were designated as the licensing authority. Between 2007 and 2020 the licensing authority (HSE) contracted TQS to provide most of the required administrative and inspection functions on their behalf. During this period TQS were known as the licensing service (AALS)
This means that from the inception of licensing until March 2020 providers grew accustomed to contacting ‘Cardiff’ or ‘AALS’ for all matters relating to licensing. In essence the licensing service sat between providers / the public and the AALA (HSE).
From 1st April 2020 the AALA (part of the HSE) have taken all administration of the licensing scheme in house. They have contracted with a private company (Adventure RMS Ltd) to undertake application reviews and some ad hoc work on their behalf, but all administration, including the handling of enquiries and questions about the scheme or about current licences, are now handled by the AALA. Adventure RMS respond to applications they receive from the AALA and they are contracted to undertake a review and provide a decision within a set time frame. Adventure RMS do not have a ‘public facing’ role on behalf of the AALA and cannot answer questions that should be directed to them. In essence the AALA (HSE) now sit between providers / the public and the inspectorate (Adventure RMS).
This means that questions about current licences or about the licensing scheme in general, complaints or enquiries about licence holders etc, should be directed to the AALA (AALAemail@example.com).
Providers should allow at least 3 months.
Applications are processed by the AALA, then passed to Adventure RMS where they are allocated to an inspector and a consulting inspector for consideration. Adventure RMS do not receive applications from the AALA until they have received a completed application form along with the relevant supporting documentation, and the payment has cleared. Adventure RMS aims to complete all application reviews in a timely and efficient manner and is required to provide a decision on the review of an application within 56 days of receipt. It is impossible to say exactly how long any particular review will take but providers should allow at least 3 months from the date of their application to receipt of a licence. Existing providers can apply for a renewal as early as 6 months before their current licence expires. All applicants can help to speed up the process by ensuring their application is complete with the relevant and appropriate documentation and that they respond to further requests from their allocated inspector promptly.
The information required in an application is explained in paragraph 48 of L77 and has not changed.
The former process chose to incorporate the collection of that information into the inspector’s site visit. The new application review process is different and starts with a desktop audit (core inspection) of the application material. This results in more focussed and efficient contacts between inspector and provider.
Regulation 4(a) requires applications to be in a form and manner approved by the licensing authority. The new application review process is designed to allow providers time, during the review, to address issues identified by inspectors in order to reduce the possibility of a licence being refused or varied by the licensing authority.
You can download a free copy of the L77 regulations here https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l77.htm
This is entirely at the discretion of the inspector(s) concerned and will depend on their reasons for conducting a further inspection (visit) and their ability to find the evidence or reassurance they need to reach their decision. It could range from less than an hour to several hours.
No. Adventure RMS will aim to allocate inspectors to best effect by balancing the benefits of an inspector’s past local knowledge of a provider with the benefits of a fresh perspective and a fresh pair of eyes.
Your current licence might expire before your application review can be completed. In this case you would not legally be able to offer licensable activities after the expiry date of your old licence until you receive your new licence.
Yes, if the work you are doing falls within scope of the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations 2004. Regulation 3(c) specifies which adults must accompany young people for the provision to be exempt from licensing and this does not include their teachers. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2004/1309/regulation/3/made
If you wish to add a new activity, which is within scope of the regulations, you must apply to the AALA for a variation of your licence. There is no charge for this. You can contact the AALA by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
To apply for additional activities to be added to your licence the AALA will require:
- Operating procedure/statement – This should include the minimum level of instructor competence required of those deployed to lead the activity and the maximum ratio of these to participants
- Risk assessment – covering activity and venue (combined or separately)
- Evidence of instructor competence – matching that required by the operating procedure
- Emergency action procedure – appropriate to the activity and the venues at which it will be delivered
- Evidence of the provision and maintenance of suitable equipment in order to deliver the activity
If you no longer offer an activity you are not obliged to inform the licensing authority and could simply inform your inspector at the next renewal.
See also ‘How long does it take for a licence variation request to be processed?’
AALA and Adventure RMS will deal with your request as promptly as possible, however each application is unique, and the amount of work required varies, depending on:
- The number of activities requested
- The nature and complexity of the activity/activities
- Whether the activity is in a different category to those already being provided
- The suitability and sufficiency of the information you have submitted
- The availability of the inspector to discuss the application with you
- The availability of the applicant and any others relevant to the application
- Whether a site visit is necessary
- Administration time
AALA will endeavour to provide a decision as soon as possible, but neither timing nor the outcome of a licence variation request can be accurately predicted in advance. Please take this into account when considering whether to accept bookings for licensable activities that are not on your licence.
See also ‘How do I add activities to a licence?’
Inspectors use various techniques to review an application; only one of these is direct observation of an activity. Usually it is possible to reach a decision on an application even when the provider is not operational (as long as staff, equipment, facilities and documentation are available to the inspector). Where it is not possible for an inspector to reach a decision because sufficient evidence is not available, then it may not be possible to grant the licence or it may need to be granted with non-standard conditions.
During the application review process consideration is given to adjusting licence duration so that at the next review the inspector will have greater opportunities to observe how safety management arrangements operate in practice.
Wherever the inspector, in discussion with yourself, thinks best.
Site visits should be focussed on whatever issues the inspector has identified during the core inspection for further investigation or clarification. The inspector will try to arrange the time and place of the visit to give them the best chance to get the evidence they need.
Inspectors will provide feedback on the process, but the definitive outcome is the licence document and the report, which you will receive from the AALA.
Where your final report identifies necessary remedial action, you will get a letter from the AALA giving you a specified period of time to address the issues.
If you do not address the relevant matters within this period, depending on the circumstances, you will receive written notification of refusal or the imposition of non-standard conditions. If a non-standard condition is applied this means you will still be able to operate but with some limitations; at any time during your licence period you could apply to vary your licence and have the non-standard condition removed by demonstrating you had taken whatever necessary action was identified in your report.
The Adventure RMS application review process has been designed, in part, to provide you with opportunities to address any issues during the review to avoid such circumstances wherever possible.
The application process, including payment and administration of the form and associated documentation is undertaken by the AALA, not Adventure RMS.
Contact the AALA by email at email@example.com
Licence duration is decided by applying AALA Note 1.03 a copy of which can be requested by emailing AALA-applications@HSE.gov.uk.
Information about how Adventure RMS apply 1.03 is available on this website under – Guidance – AALA – Licence duration
You should notify the AALA of material changes which affect your ability to maintain your arrangements for the effective implementation, control, monitoring and review of the measures necessary to ensure safety. These might include the departure of key personnel or significant changes in staffing arrangements for example.
See also ‘How do I add activities to a licence?’
Possibly – it depends who the young people are accompanied by. Aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers etc. do not count. Young people must be accompanied, during the activity, by their parent, guardian or whoever has parental responsibility in law (see regulation 3(2)(c)) http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2004/1309/regulation/3/made
No – where you are considered to be non-compliant with the regulations in some respect you will be given remedial action in your report. This identified remedial action must be completed to avoid the AALA taking action to limit or refuse your licence. Beyond this any verbal advice from an inspector or guidance given in your report is simply intended to be helpful and supportive.
When you operate this second base at the same time throughout any period of 28 days or more (see regulation 3(1)).
The inspector will need to see a variety of information to be able to reach their decision. GDPR does not prevent you providing necessary evidence to an inspector but by all means challenge why they are requesting that information and what they will do with it.
Regulation 6(4) makes it clear that the inspector needs to see any such places, equipment and documents as they think necessary for the purpose of enabling the licensing authority to reach a decision. It is also a standard condition of your licence (regulation 9(1)(e)) that you consent to any reasonable request for information from the authority relating to your activity provision. The information you share should not be in breach of your requirement to hold information that is adequate, relevant, and limited to what is necessary.
The regulations require a competent person/s to advise on safety matters – regulations 6(1)(a)(iv) and 9(1)(c). So, it is essential for the management of activities to be in competent hands; whether this is an internal manager, a staff team, or an external safety adviser(s).
This competent person/s may need to call on the services of a specialist ‘technical expert’ to answer specific technical questions or to undertake the assessment of instructors where they are deployed to operate without a national qualification or beyond the remit of their qualifications.
The ‘safety adviser’ role goes beyond ’technical expertise’. Commonly this role will be undertaken by an existing member/s of management or staff. Where an external safety adviser is required they must have sufficient knowledge of, and involvement in, the operation to ensure activities are safely managed.
The ‘technical expert’ role is limited to assessing leaders as competent (when required) and providing technical advice in relation to specific issues (when requested). Of course, it is quite possible for a suitably experienced, competent and qualified person to be both a safety adviser and a technical expert.
Yes. The inspector may take account of any relevant evidence that comes to their attention, including that from non-licensable activities, but their primary focus will be on your licensable activities. You are reminded that out-of-scope activities fall under the scope of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and therefore your safety management systems should be robust in all aspects of your business, whether licensable or not. Where an inspector has concerns about an out-of-scope activity they may take this into account when making a licensing decision and if appropriate, inform the relevant enforcing authority.
Not formally, no. The inspector’s role is to gather the evidence they need to reach a decision on your licence application. If during this process they can share advice and good practice from their own experience, then they will. However, the inspector is not there to act as your safety adviser.
The technical expert has two roles:
- to be involved in the training and assessment of instructors who do not hold appropriate national qualifications;
- to provide specific technical input if it is needed.
If a provider does not need these things doing, then they don’t need a technical expert (either internal or external). If they do need these things doing, then neither of these roles require a formal contract between the provider and the external technical expert.
HSE publication L77 makes clear that where in-house training, or ‘competence through experience’, rather than an externally assessed qualification, is used to demonstrate instructor competence then this should be assessed by someone with sufficient technical expertise – usually someone suitably qualified to assess for the national qualification. Where in-house training is used then the training syllabus should be specified by a technical expert.
No. Where statements of competence are used instead of national qualifications to evidence the suitability of an instructor, then the assessment resulting in the statement of competence must be made by an appropriate technical expert. These technical experts could be internal or external to the organisation. Remember – it is good practice to ensure that in-house training and final assessment are carried out by different people.
In general, licences are not transferrable. They cannot be transferred from one person to another or one company to another.
Where a licence holder is changing their name, their business status (sole trader to limited company for example), their address or are merging with another company they should contact the licensing authority (AALA-applications@HSE.gov.uk) for guidance as to the potential impact of these changes to the status of their licence. AALA will review the information and determine whether licensable activities can continue under the existing licence, or whether a new application is required.