Government needs to take lead in brownfield reuse, says thinktank

Local authorities must have leadership from government if they are to ensure the safe and sustainable reuse of brownfield land within the UK, a national environmental charity has warned.

Environmental Protection UK (EPUK) has urged Defra to make a firm commitment to develop key research and delivery tools to support new guidance on contaminated land.

The charity’s concerns follow government proposals to revise the statutory guidance under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 – known as the contaminated land regime – aimed at improving the regime.

In responding to the consultation, EPUK worked with over 130 practitioners including primary regulators, consultants and developers through a series of workshops.

EPUK’s chief executive, James Grugeon, said: “EPUK welcomes Defra’s intentions to improve the contaminated land regime, but what we have heard from our members is that we need a firm commitment from government to work with the sector to develop the required delivery tools.

“Local authorities also need support to take a proactive approach under the regime with regular progress reviews. Failure to do so will undermine the regime because local authorities will be forced to focus their limited funding on other policy areas.”

The contaminated land regime is aimed at dealing with the UK’s industrial legacy of contaminated land, which can pose a threat to the health of humans, ecology and groundwater.

Supporting the redevelopment of brownfield land, the UK’s contaminated land sector has been a major growth area over the past two decades and is now estimated to be worth over £1 billion a year, with growth projected at 3.5% per year.

However continuing uncertainties in regulatory approach and technical understanding undermine confidence in brownfield redevelopment, hindering growth and increasing pressure on scarce land resources.

Maxine Perella

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