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Councils will fail deadline for contaminated land strategies

OVER HALF of local authorities are set to miss the 1 July deadline for submitting contaminated land strategies to the Environment Agency, industry experts claimed this week.

The prediction from the Environmental Industries Commission is put down to skills shortages and a lack of funds.

Local authorities are responsible for identifying and investigating contaminated sites, and will have to serve remediation notices on polluters or site owners. Where polluters cannot be identified authorities will have to shoulder responsibility for cleaning up the sites themselves.

But a pot of just £21M has been allocated to authorities to tackle the task ahead. The UK's 450 plus local authorities are bidding for funds. Many are not expected to be able to recruit extra staff.

'Local authorities have no cash to take on the work, ' said Bob Lewis, secretary of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Midlands office.

'If they have to take on more technically demanding work within their existing budgets they may as well forget it.'

Authorities are struggling to meet government contaminated land targets despite a handout of £50M over three years in October 1999 (NCE 21 October 1999), added senior consultant at Parkman Roger Johnson.

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