PROBLEMS WITH licensing land remediation are still a major barrier to clean-up of brownfield sites, according to industry lobbying group the Environmental Industries Commission.
Its director Merlin Hyman said: 'EIC has worked hard with the Environment Agency to enable the existing mobile plant licensing (MPL) system to function, but some companies estimate it costs them up to 20% of their turnover just to deal with licensing.
'EIC has been pushing for DEFRA [Department of the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs] to agree major exemptions to the need for MPLs for small and trial sites and continues to push the Agency to speed up processing of MPL applications, ' he added.
EIC is also lobbying for a new dedicated 'remediation permit' to be introduced and has met environment minister Michael Meacher to stress the importance of this initiative to ongoing land remediation.
'The new EU Landfill Directive will have the important effect of putting up the cost of landfilling and thereby help promote sustainable 'on-site' remediation technologies, ' Hyman said. 'However, the directive puts further regulatory barriers in the way of such technologies and costs are also likely to rise for remediation projects where onsite technologies cannot be used.'
He said it was vital for more incentives to be given to reusing brownfield land to ensure the directive did not make greenfield sites more commercially attractive.
'A further barrier to land remediation is the major differences in the quality of implementation of the new Part IIA contaminated land regime by local authorities, ' Hyman said.
Local authorities were still struggling with the need for an effective strategy to manage contaminated land in their areas, 'which causes uncertainty for both land owners and solution providers' Hyman said. Meacher has agreed to write to 'failing' local authorities in response to concerns from EIC members.
There are 300,000ha of contaminated sites in the UK alone. The assessment and remediation market is worth about £700M annually in the UK, and is growing at more than 5% per year.
The Environmental Industries Commission contaminated land working group is trying to ensure a supportive government policy framework is in place to help develop remediation technology and the reuse of brownfield sites.
It has more than a hundred member companies representing environmental consultancies, remediation contractors, chemical laboratories, waste management companies, solicitors and academics.
l EIC is holding its National Industry Conference on 24 April at the British Library in London. It will feature key DEFRA and EA officials and keynote addresses from Michael Meacher, EA chair Sir John Harman and acting director general at DG Environment in the European Commission, JeanFrancois Verstrynge. For more details contact EIC on +44 (0) 20 7935 1675, www. eic-uk. co. uk