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Local authorities struggle to meet contaminated land responsibilities

NEWS

MORE THAN half of local authorities would miss the 1 July deadline for submitting contaminated land strategies to the Environment Agency, industry experts claimed last month.

The Environmental Industries Commission predicted that more than half the strategies setting out local authorities' plans for investigation and remediation of contaminated sites would not appear because of skills shortages and a lack of funds.

Under Part IIa of the Environmental Protection Act, local authorities are responsible for identifying and investigating contaminated sites and will be obliged to serve remediation notices on polluters or site owners.

Where polluters cannot be identified authorities will have to shoulder responsibility for cleaning up sites themselves.

But only £21M has been allocated to tackle the task.

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 Midlands office of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

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

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