From October, re-developers and contractors will only need one licence if they are operating mobile plant, regardless of the number of sites at which they are operating. At present a separate licence is needed for each site.

The changes are designed to speed up development of brownfield land, particularly with on-site remediation which is becoming increasingly necessary since the introduction of the Landfill Directive which prevents contaminated soils being dumped in landfill sites.

Liz Parkes, Environment Agency’s Head of Waste Regulation said: “Due to increasing housing demand, and the drive to bring brownfield sites into use, there is inevitably an increasing need for industry to re-develop brownfield land. Although we need to ensure that any redevelopment has the smallest possible impact on the environment, we also want to make sure that in doing so we are not making things unnecessarily difficult for industry.

“These changes will go along way to achieving this. In the light of recent changes to the law, its very important that the construction industry looks to treat and re-use brownfield soil rather than simply sending it to landfill. Not only will this help the environment but it could also save them money.”

The changes were also welcomed by industry. Merlin Hyman of the Environmental Industries Commission said: “We welcome these very constructive and positive steps by the Environment Agency and Defra to reduce the barriers to cleaning up contaminated land for redevelopment and to encourage the use of sustainable ‘on-site’ treatment methods. The new approach is an important step towards a streamlined approach to licensing land remediation.”

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