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Brownfield law delay slammed

THE GOVERNMENT has been attacked by an influential industry organisation over delays to the implementation of Section 57 contaminated land provisions of the 1995 Environment Act, announced on 22 December last year.

In a letter to Minister for the Environment Michael Meacher last month, Environmental Industries Commission director Adrian Wilkes slammed Labour for confusing industry over the final form of the draft statutory guidance and the dates for imple- mentation of the regulations.

He said the delay was 'creating unnecessary hesitancy in the property market and encouraging greenfield developments, because of uncertainty over clean-up requirements of brownfield sites'.

Wilkes added that this contradicted the government's stated objective of increasing the use of previously developed land. In some instances he claimed this was leading to overly conservative remediation of brownfield sites.

He called for the end of further consultation and for the draft to be published as a framework for industry to implement in advance of the regulations. Funding for local authorities to carry out necessary inspection and remediation of contaminated land, while being a critical factor, should not delay the finalisation of the draft guidance, he said.

Local authorities' respons- ibilities could be phased in when funds were available, he added. Creating an approach consistent with future requirements would avoid problems with non-compliance of projects completed in the next couple of years.

The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions is carrying out research to support the risk-based approach set out in the guidance, including the identification of priority contaminants and the development of risk assessment methodology.

Wilkes claimed that even though this research was not fully complete, progressive publication of technical procedures needed to implement a consistent risk-based approach to contaminated land would be 'invaluable to industry as a whole'.

Of particular benefit would be 'The ability to provide authoritative advice consistent with future legislation, underpinned by criteria which address basic government policy such as suitability for use and sustainability of solutions,' he said.

As a result of a campaign by the Environmental Industries Commission, British companies making equipment to control air, waste and water pollution have, for the first time, an effective lobbying voice in Brussels to win support from European politicians and commission officials. Three working groups on air, waste and water pollution have been launched by the European Committee of Environ- mental Technology Suppliers Associations. They will lobby on future EC environmental legis- lation and the commission's R&D programmes. The first meetings with European Commission officials will take place in March and are expected to include discussions on EU proposals for VOC emissions, hazardous waste incineration and discharge of dangerous substances into the aquatic environment.

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