CLAIRE in the community

There is increasing pressure to remediate and re-use the UK's estimated 200,000 hectares of contaminated land in the UK for housing and other developments. At the current rate of progress, however, the clean-up of these sites could take 200 years to achieve, at a cost of some £20 billion. CLAIRE (Contaminated Land Applications In Real Environments) has been established to encourage research, practical demonstrations and applications of remediation technologies to clean up contaminated land. Chief executive Paul Beck lays the foundations.

Current and future legislation will place increasing pressure on owners of contaminated sites to take action to reduce their environmental liability. And whilst many new remedial technologies have been developed, there is often no track record or examples of effective use of these technologies in the UK. Many currently available technologies are not well understood at a fundamental level, which makes their application in UK sites hard to predict.

In time CLAIRE’s activity will catalyse the remediation of contaminated sites in the UK in a cost-effective way, allowing them to be used for housing and other developments, through:

  • creating value for contaminated land holders;
  • generating commercial opportunities for UK remediation companies;
  • helping to commercialise UK research on contaminated land;
  • supporting public/private sector partnerships to re-use industrial sites to boost economic activity and attract inward investment.

Supported by a group of public and private sector partners, there are six organisations which have membership in CLAIRE:

Urban Regeneration Agency

Welsh Development Agency

Environment Agency

Scottish Environment Protection Agency

Department of Environment, Northern Ireland

Soil and Groundwater Technol-ogy Association (SAGTA)

The Members are represented on the Board of Trustees, which also includes representation from research councils, local authorities and small business. The Board has ultimate management and financial responsibility for CLAIRE.

A management team which consists of a small group of professionals will carry out the day-to-day activities of CLAIRE. It comprises full time personnel and professionals seconded from industry or other organisations.

Two advisory groups – a User Group and a Research Advisory Group – have been established to provide strategic review, support and steering functions for CLAIRE activities. Advisory Group members will have expertise in research, and practical remediation of contaminated sites, and will be approved by the Board.

With the aim of catalysing the development of cost-effective methods of investigating and remediating contaminated land in the UK in a sustainable way, CLAIRE will act as a link between researchers and technology vendors in contaminated land remediation in the UK; owners of contaminated land; and public parties interested in obtaining information on contaminated land and remediation.

The objects and powers of CLAIRE are legally defined in the Memorandum of Association, and are summarised below as operational objectives, to:

  • establish a representative network of characterised, contaminated sites throughout the UK;
  • encourage research into new technologies which may offer improved site investigation, monitoring or remediation solutions on a field scale;
  • encourage the demonstration of specific remediation technologies on the site network;
  • help to co-ordinate remediation technology research in the UK;
  • act as a clearing house for information relating to research and technology demonstrations on contaminated sites; and
  • prepare and provide educational materials for school children and the general public.

The main activities of CLAIRE will include:

  • creation of a network of test sites throughout the UK;
  • encouragement of the use of contaminated sites for research and technology demonstration related to the clean-up of contaminated land;
  • development of a UK research strategy for the remediation of contaminated land;
  • preparation of reports generated from the research and technology demonstrations;
  • development of networks to encourage the interaction of individuals and organisations interested in the remediation of contaminated land;
  • dissemination of information related to remedial technologies and contaminated land;
  • the development of educational materials related to contaminated land;
  • procurement of additional revenue streams to sustain CLAIRE over the long term; and
  • the development of a database of major players in the remediation field, including technology developers and vendors, environmental consultants and environmental contractors.

Status of activities

Approximately 35 sites have been put forward by owners as potential CLAIRE sites, and a number of researchers and technology vendors have expressed interest in conducting demonstrations on CLAIRE sites. Criteria documents are currently being developed for both sites and projects to ensure that they meet CLAIRE’s interests.

The charity is also currently developing generic legal contracts to streamline the legal process for site owners and project operators when they put forward sites and projects, and work has begun on constructing databases from contacts who have expressed an interest in CLAIRE’s activities. In addition, a web site is expected to be functional by mid-July, and a quarterly newsletter will be published with the first issue due in September.

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