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Property guide .

NEWS The contaminated land industry is faced with a plethora of new guidance documents this month. Dr Paul Nathanail reports

THE INCORPORATED Society of Valuers & Auctioneers' Desk Reference Guide to potentially contaminative land uses (ISBN 0 9029 1303 4) is written by Professor Paul Syms of Sheffield Hallam University. It is a simple summary of many of the (former) DoE industry profiles, such as what contaminants might arise from former site uses. It is aimed at 'non-specialist' professionals advising landowners on sale or redevelopment of land or on environmental liabilities.

As such it must be welcomed as it will raise awareness of the issues involved and effort needed to adequately assess and mitigate the risks that land contamination poses.

Syms has summarised existing guidance and there is no longer any excuse for surveyors to continue to be ignorant of the extent of technical guidance. Let us hope that this translates into adequately commissioned and funded investigations of potentially contaminated land.

But the inclusion of an unhelpful, verging on potentially dangerous 'risk-based classification of land uses' does raise the possibility that the publication could do more harm than good. For example the guide concludes 'intrusive invest- igation strongly recommended' for former pharmaceutical industries (including cosmetics and toiletries) but 'intrusive investigation optional' for dockyards and wharves! Nevertheless, used properly (perhaps by first tearing out the table on page 12) the guide represents a useful contribution to the process of informing the property professionals of the issues to be considered on former industrial sites.

Last autumn British Standards Institution withdrew DD175 and in its place released its draft Code of Practice on the investigation of potentially contaminated sites. Comments following its circulation have been incorporated into a new draft, released earlier this summer.

The drafting committee has made it easy for reviewers to see where changes have been taken on board or where they have not, and to see why. It is likely that the final standard and the revised Code of Practice on Site Investigation (BS 5930) will be published together sometime in the autumn.

Finally, the Environment Agency and NHBC have jointly released a consultation draft of guidance for the safe development of housing on land affected by contamination. Prepared by environmental consultant CES, the guide is aimed at house- builders, developers and their planning advisers, designers, financiers and insurers.

The two volume report presents a simple series of steps to follow in managing a housing development on land potentially affected by contamination. The report draws a clear distinction between Part IIa contaminated land and the broader category of land contamination. The first is the minimum standard to be met under the Environmental Protection Act, while the second involves a higher standard to be addressed on the basis of wider issues such as perception, marketing and corporate policy, as well as other legislation such as the Groundwater Regulations, Water Resources Act and the forthcoming Integrated Pollution Prevention & Control regime.

The report is full of helpful information including an appendix of remediation technology summary sheets based on ones prepared by Ian Martin and Paul Bardos for the Royal Commission on Environmental Protection report on soil. Volume 2 provides summaries of the key features of 40 common contam- inants with advice on which ones require specialist advice in the context of the guidance.

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