Land Remediation - key challenges for Scotland

Scotland's land remediation scene, as distinct from the rest of the UK as the Scottish landscape, has just got the representation it deserves though a new regional land lobby group. Here, the group's chairman Alistair Kean outlines the key issues he will be campaigning on.

Significant variations exist in the regulatory framework between Scotland and England as a result of the different legal and political systems. The Scottish Executive has also - for good reason - been following a regeneration policy dominated by social issues due to significant areas of poverty in Scotland, rather than the more environmental and waste-related agenda in the south.

Whilst cleaning up contaminated land is at the heart of regenerating Scotland's urban areas it is often hampered by inappropriate regulatory controls. It is for this reason that the Environmental Industries Commission has recently launched a new Scottish land lobby.

This new group will provide the land remediation industry with strong and effective representation on the key barriers to land remediation in Scotland and will work alongside EIC's highly successful Contaminated Land Working Group which, with over 180 Member companies, is the largest and most representative grouping of land remediation practitioners in the UK.

EIC is not unfamiliar with lobbying on behalf of the land remediation industry in Scotland and has already enjoyed lobbying success, with SEPA agreeing to follow the Environment Agency in introducing the new Mobile Treatment Licensing system.

However, regulatory barriers to land remediation in Scotland do still exist, and therefore the new Group will initially focus its priorities on resolving the problems with contaminated land risk assessment, SEPA licensing land remediation technologies and drivers of brownfield regeneration in Scotland.

Remediation Licensing

While the 1998 introduction of the Mobile Plant Licence helped kick start onsite remediation in the UK, significant improvements have been introduced in England and Wales with the new Mobile Treatment Licence system. Whereas under the old system the contractor required multiple licences, which were expensive and time consuming to obtain, they need now only have one Mobile Treatment Licence to operate on numerous sites simultaneously. This system has already been introduced in England and Wales and is understood to be shortly destined to be enacted in Scotland as well.

However, it now seems that a heavily revised Mobile Plant Licensing system will be maintained in Scotland. The new group will be discussing this with officials and regulators to ensure that a competitive system is achieved and that remediation contractors either side of the border are not disadvantaged.

Contaminated Land Assessment

Despite our greater understanding of risk assessment, a frustration for contaminated land practitioners has been the lack of progress in the introduction of the Soil Guideline Values which underpin the CLEA Risk Assessment Programme, introduced as part of the guidance for Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act. There is a certain degree of confusion over the actual status of the SGV's that have already been introduced and work is currently taking place within DEFRA to build on the work of the recent SGV Task Force. One of the key issues is the definition of the significant possibility of significant harm and how this relates to the SGV's that have already been released.

Volunteers from the new Scottish Group are meeting to discuss whether there is any merit in attempting to solve some of the challenges of the SGV system in a different way.

Contaminated Soil Disposal

The introduction of the Landfill Directive in UK legislation over the last two years caused a great deal of confusion. Now the dust has begun to settle, a more consistent approach to waste classification is evident, as some of the predictions of dire landfill shortage have proved incorrect, prices are also beginning to fall. However, issues still remain surrounding the way that post remediation soil is deemed to cease be waste.

There is an opportunity at present to change definition of soils leaving the waste stream. The European Commission has published a thematic strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste. Arising from this is a new framework directive and for certain priority waste streams, the European Commission intends to set out specific criteria as to when a waste has been recovered and can be reclassified as a secondary product, material or substance.

EIC's new Scottish land Group is currently looking into whether there is an opportunity to lobby the Scottish Executive on the forthcoming Waste Framework Directive over new guidance on the definition of waste. The key issue it to ensure that soils arising from contaminated land projects are included in this list. It is to be hoped that this might finally put to rest the most irritating challenges facing the sustainable reuse of previously contaminated soils. EIC is already highly active in this area and is currently engaged in high level lobbying of Defra and the European Commission on the Waste Framework Directive and the definition of waste.

The land remediation sector in Scotland is experiencing rapid change and on 27 September 2006 EIC will be bringing together industry leaders and leading Government experts to provide advance warning policy intelligence, definitive current status reports and clear guidance for the land remediation industry in Scotland as part of its second Scottish Land Remediation Conference.

The conference will hear from Sir Ken Collins, Chairman of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Kenny Boag, Waste Policy Manager at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Richard Rollinson, Scottish Executive and leading industry experts on key issues for the Scottish land remediation industry such as the framework for assessing land remediation set by CLEA and SGVs, and the application of waste regulation to land remediation, the latest developments in licensing land clean-up.

More information on the Conference is available directly from EIC on 0207 935 1675 or info@eic-uk.co.uk. A booking form for the Conference can be found at www.eic-uk.co.uk/images/ScotConf_V21.pdf

Alistair Kean is director of IKM Environmental Consulting Ltd., and chair of the EIC's Scottish Contaminated Land Working Group.

The Environmental Industries Commission (EIC), with over 300 Member companies, is the lead association for the environmental technology and services sector. For more information contact Merlin Hyman, EIC Director on 020 7935 1675, info@eic-uk.co.uk or look at the EIC website on www.eic-uk.co.uk.

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