The study Environmental liability transfer in Europe: Divestment of contaminated land for brownfield regeneration by the brownfields working group of the Network for Industrially Contaminated Land in Europe (NICOLE) contains detailed information for 15 different European jurisdictions.

By following the road map, users can explore the definitions of ‘contaminated land’, ‘brownfield’ and related terms, what status they have and how they are used in different European countries.

There is also information on legislative, policy and market drivers for brownfield regeneration in Europe, and how they are used in different European countries/territories, together with environmental liability transfer mechanisms in Europe, including statutory and contractual provisions, and insurances.

Closure of industrial sites is an inevitable part of the cycle of land use. Organisations closing facilities are sensitive to the possibility that, even with safeguards in place, it could be possible for a post-divestiture contamination problem to end up back with them.

Unlike the sale of many assets there can be a continuing liability associated with the sale of land in line with the Polluter Pays Principle. Such liability can ‘bounce back’ to the original polluter.

Liability transfer can be a key element of the decision whether land remains un-reclaimed, or whether the ‘factory gates are opened’ and the site is regenerated into a new productive use, supporting local needs such as employment or housing provision.

Maxine Perella

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