The Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) has written to Defra minister Jonathan Shaw in a bid to speed up the preparation of national standards to clean up brownfield land.

EIC chiefs said national guidance would help to remove some of the barriers which could prevent developers from using previously developed sites.

Merlin Hyman, director of the EIC, said the lack of guidance on risk assessment added time and expense to all brownfield developments that ran into many millions of pounds every year.

Mr Hyman told edie: “No-one is going to go ahead and build on anything that had any development on it beforehand without assessing the risk, even if it was a very low risk development.”

He added: “There may be clean up being done that isn’t necessary just to make sure everyone is covered and it leads to a slower process.”

Defra published a paper outlining the way forward on the new guidance in November for consultation and announced earlier this year it would take those proposals forward.

But, Mr Hyman who said the need for new guidance was identified several years ago, said the EIC’s members were concerned that not enough progress has been made.

He said: “When the process first started at least seven years ago it was envisaged it would take a year or two.

“Given the right resources and perhaps using private sector expertise, perhaps six months to a year would be appropriate for getting the bulk of the material out.

“If it is going to take a while, we could cope with that if there was at least a timetable.”

A Defra spokeswoman said the Environment Agency and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health are currently working on producing the guidance.

Kate Martin

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