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Know your law

The legislative landscape is now reaching some sort of completion.

SO IT is official - for July read December as far as the Part IIa statutory guidance is concerned. And it now looks as if the core technical guidance - the Model Procedures and the CLEA guideline values - will be released at the same time.

FOCIL and the ICE are holding a seminar to discuss the draft guidance during the consultation period, probably in mid-July. Further details will be available on the FOCIL email discussion list or at: www.mailbase.ac.uk/lists/ focil/archive.html.

Meanwhile, the Environment Agency will be publishing its integrated approach to groundwater risk assessment early this month. At the same time, the Consim groundwater risk assessment model jointly developed by the EA and Golder Associates will be released. EA staff have received training in the use of Consim and so will be ready for the anticipated flood of consultants' reports using the new model.

The legislative landscape is now reaching some sort of completion. It will be important for all stakeholders to understand how different legal tools will be used by the regulators. For example, the Groundwater Regulations (GE May 1999) will be used by the EA to ensure that List 1 or List 2 contamination in the unsaturated zone does not reach groundwater. However, once contamination has entered groundwater, then the Water Resources Act, including the recently introduced s161a Works Notices, will be employed.

For soil contamination, whether human health or groundwater is the receptor of concern, then Part IIa of the Environmental Protection Act will kick in. There are, of course, other pre-existing legal tools that can be used as well.

And there is news of progress on the standards front. The revised draft Code of Practice for the Investigation of Contamination, formerly DD175, has been updated following the consultation workshop held at the Society of Chemical Industries last autumn and is likely to be published early this autumn. The update to BS5930, which for the first time includes a section dealing with contaminated land, will be released at the same time.

All this means of course that there will be ever fewer excuses for procuring, carrying out or accepting inadequate investigation, assessment or remediation of land contamination. With the major efforts in training the regulators - ranging from in-house one-day seminars to attendance on MSc courses - the chances of regulators accepting inadequate work are decreasing all the time. We have been warned!

Dr Paul Nathanail is course director of the EPSRC IGDS MSc course in contaminated land management at the University of Nottingham.

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