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The money will cover site investigation and remediation, and is part of the on-going Supplementary Credit Approval programme that has so far provided English local authorities £127 million for a variety of projects over the last 12 years.

“I am keen to ensure that when it comes to the clean up of contaminated land we follow the ‘polluter pays’ principle. However, costs can arise for the regulator when, for instance, the polluter cannot be found,” said Environment Minister Michael Meacher. “That is where the Supplementary Credit Approval Programme comes in. The programme helps local authorities to carry out their statutory duties and to meet the costs they face in investigating and remediating contaminated land.”

Local authorities were invited to bid for the money in February of this year. Priority has been given to sites where preliminary site investigations have indicated a greater risk to human health or the environment, although value for money was also taken into consideration.

The largest awards are going to: West Sussex County Council (£1,143,304), North Lincolnshire Council (£830,000), Newcastle City (£779,935), Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council (£720,000) and Devon County Council (£650,065).

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