The Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) has called for urgent support for the land assessment and remediation sectors, to boost skills in the brownfield sector.
The Draft Brownfield Skills Strategy, developed by the Academy for Sustainable Communities, lists 25 recommendations to boost skills in the brownfield sector, and is under consultation.
Responding to this consultation, EIC's Director Merlin Hyman said, "Land remediation is a growing industry and there is a clear need for support for the skills development essential to the sector.
"However, the framework must take into account the requirement to demonstrate technical competence for Environmental Permitting for land remediation projects and the soon to be introduced requirement for a Qualified Person to sign off a Declaration of compliance with the Industry Code of Practice.
"The brownfield skills strategy covers a wide range of activities and the specific needs of the contaminated land remediation industry must not get lost in this wide ranging framework."
In a submission to the consultation, Hyman said, "The questions of availability and recognition of brownfield skills are ones that are increasingly important to our members in a growing and maturing land remediation sector. As such, we welcome and support effective initiatives to address some of the problems or gaps that might exist in this area.
"We note that the Brownfield Skills brief inevitably covers a wide range of activities, but point out that the interests and concerns of our members are primarily focused on one subset, the investigation and remediation of contaminated land."
Merlin said that EIC members were concerned that enough qualified people are coming into the industry with appropriate qualifications, and whether all specific disciplines are adequately covered. They identified geotechnical engineers/engineering geologists, hydrogeologists, human health QRA specialists, environmental engineers, remediation process engineers and chemists as areas of concern.
The EIC also highlighted the lack of accreditation and professional development. They want to ensure that:
- Under Environmental Permitting, individuals engaged in the management of land remediation projects, or operators of same, to be able to demonstrate technical competence
- The Industry Code of Practice ensures a Qualified Person to sign off a Declaration confirming compliance with the Code
- The badging of suitably qualified and experienced practitioners (corporate accreditation), based upon a combination of corporate standing and management systems, together with the aggregate of individual skills, experience and competence.