Legislation is barrier to reuse of brownfield sites

Current regulation controlling the clean up of contaminated land needs a major overhaul if the Government is not to miss its own targets for construction of 60% of new homes on brownfield sites.

A new report by the Government’s Urban Taskforce has recommended the streamlining of regulations into a remediation permit that would cover all remediation activities presenting a risk to the environment due to contamination in soil or groundwater, but should clearly exclude activities that do not justify controls. The proposed system would take six to 12 months to implement, says the report.

“It is hard enough to get developers to bring brownfield land back into use without putting up additional bureaucratic hurdles to regeneration,” said chairman of the cross-industry group that compiled the report, Phil Kirby. “This is not about deregulation, but it is about better regulation.” Kirby is optimistic that the Government will announce its adoptions of the report when Parliament returns later in the autumn.

“Cleaning up contaminated land is a key part of releasing brownfield sites for regeneration and relieving pressure on greenbelt and rural sites,” said Director of the Environment Industries Commission Merlin Hyman. “Yet this vital work is being undermined by bad regulation.” The EIC has lobbied for contaminated land legislation to be streamlined.

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