Defra’s funding of the Contaminated Land Capital Grants scheme is to end in 2017, according to a letter sent by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Lord de Mauley to all local authorities in England.
Environmental industry body Ciwem has criticised the move to axe the Environment Agency run scheme that covers the capital cost of implementing the contaminated land regime under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Lord de Mauley’s letter held up the publication of revised Part 2A statutory guidance in April 2012 as justification for the announcement and stated: “This has resulted in a more stringent risk-based approach to identifying and remediating contaminated land. Given these changes, Defra will no longer be supporting the costs of investigating and remediating contaminated land under Part 2A through the Contaminated Land Capital Grants Scheme”.
The letter continued: “Despite continuing economic pressures, from 1 April 2014 for a three year period, it is anticipated up to £0.5M could still be made accessible annually (subject to capital funding being available within Defra) for absolute emergency cases and to meet the requirements of on-going remediation projects where these are considered to be the highest priority. Funding will cease from 1 April 2017”.
Ciwem Contaminated Land Network member Andrew Wiseman said: “Local authorities are still under a duty to inspect their area under the legislation and if the money is not available from grant funding, contaminated land officers will end up having to make a case to senior management for funding. This means going into battle against other frontline services.
“If they find out about contamination at a site, for example because of a voluntary investigation by a site owner, they will have to find the resources to investigate it further. Finding out who has liability to pay becomes even more important with no pot of government money to call upon. This announcement also means LAs need to think about their hardship policies and whether they need to be revised in light of this announcement.”