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Model for brownfield risk assessment 'too costly'

RISK ASSESSMENT guidelines designed to help consultants deliver remediation strategies for contaminated sites could result in an over cautious approach to clean up work, a major UK brownfield client warned this week.

The Government aims to produce a risk assessment model known as CLEA later this year, based on the principle that different levels of clean up are appropriate for different end uses. It will establish a sliding scale for permissible residual contamination.

But it is understood CLEA and other risk based guidelines intended to boost confidence in brownfield clean up are highly complex.

BG Property general manager Phil Kirby warned that in many cases it will be too costly to carry out site investigation in the detail required to make the CLEA model work properly.

Kirby said the complex nature of the models might lead consultants and the Environment Agency - which will have final say on the remediation techniques used - to take a conservative view, resulting in excessive remediation.

'If clean up is excessive, brownfield reclamation is going to cost too much money, ' he warned.

Kirby said there was also a danger that consultants and the Agency would treat results from risk assessment models 'as a panacea' and not take more appropriate steps to anticipate risk.

He added that a flexible approach was necessary if brownfield sites were to compete against greenfield schemes.

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