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Brownfield owners pressured to provide site log books

OWNERS OF contaminated sites will have difficulty selling them on unless they detail past uses and pollutants affecting the land in a new 'log book', experts claimed this week.

The Land Condition Register log book, launched on Tuesday, has been developed by a group of prominent players in the remediation industry and key brownfield clients with Government support. It aims to reduce risk in brownfield site transactions and improve time and cost predictability in clean up.

Use of the register is voluntary. But failure to supply comprehensive site information via the register when selling a site will slow down transactions or thwart the sale altogether, predicted general manager at remediation contractor VHE Technology Mike Summersgill.

Failure to provide a complete land condition register is likely to raise suspicions that the seller has something to hide, said Lattice (formerly BG Property) general manager Phil Kirby.

The register is also intended to cut costs involved in site investigation - it is currently normal for the seller, investors and insurers to commission their own site investigations and reports as there is no single, authoritative document.

An accredited report will help eliminate the need for duplication. It will also help investors and insurers to identify areas needing more investigation.

To strengthen the credibility of the Land Condition Register the Government is backing plans for an accreditation scheme for consultants involved in identifying contamination risk and designing solutions. This system will be in place by Easter, said Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions head of land quality Malcolm Lowe.

The move is an important step towards improving standards and eradicating cowboy remediation consultants, said Environment Agency land policy manager Phil Crowcroft.

Accreditation is to be provided by a panel of senior remediation engineers. The DETR is launching a recruitment drive to appoint 20 assessors. Over 100 will be needed when the register is fully adopted, predicted independent consultant and technical co-ordinator responsible for the Land Condition Register, Judith Lowe.

The register will present information in a standard form, including geographical references, current and past uses, use of surrounding land, proximity of controlled waters and access, desk study and investigative information, remediation details, regulatory authority information and contractual details.

Andrew Mylius

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