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Remediation for beginners


One of Ciria's latest environmental initiatives is a network to help local authorities face their new responsibilities on contaminated land issues.

Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 has given UK local authorities a complex new role.

They now have the duty of a regulatory body to determine whether a site is contaminated.

They are responsible not only for remediating any contaminated sites they own, but for sites where the polluter or the owner cannot be found.

There is nearly 360,000ha of contaminated land in the UK and much of this will be redeveloped in the next few years under the government's urban regeneration policy.

Every year more than £500M is spent on removing contaminants from polluted sites and this is set to rise. More than 90% of local authorities have prepared their contaminated land strategies and many will be implementing them in the next few months. While some are well-versed in contaminated land risk assessment, many will be facing such responsibilities for the first time.

There has also been a gradual change in remediation practice.

Landfill disposal is becoming more expensive due to the introduction of the Landfill Tax and the shrinking number of disposal sites available.

The disposal approach, which conflicts with the aims of sustainable development, is increasingly discouraged by the Government and is at odds with public opinion. Process-based treatment has become more common on contaminated land projects. Again, some local authorities are familiar with these techniques, but many are completely new to the subject.

Comprehensive contaminated land guidance has been developed by government bodies such as the Environment Agency, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Welsh Development Agency, as well as non-government bodies such as Ciria and the National House-Building Council.

The CLEA model, launched in March 2002 (GE June 2002), will have significant impact on the way contaminated land will be remediated in the future.

Although most of these organisations have invested considerable effort in disseminating guidance, it is sometimes difficult for newcomers to this area to locate and understand the information.

This is no easy mechanism to help users search for particular information amid the vast array of guidance available.

For example, Ciria's 12-volume report, SP101-112 Remedial treatment for contaminated land , contains more than 300 references developed by more than 30 organisations.

This has caused significant problems for local authorities and smaller companies who have limited resources and time and may be involved in contaminated land projects for the first time.

Recent research indicates that some local authorities felt they were unable to use financial opportunities presented by contaminated land projects, for example the 150% tax break, because they do not have the time or resources to identify the relevant guidance.

A mechanism is needed to help local authorities address these new responsibilities. With this in mind, Ciria recently launched the Local Authority Contaminated Land Network. This should allow local authorities to:

keep track of current guidance on contaminated land risk assessment and management

share experience among contaminated land officers lcommunicate with other local authorities and other parties such as lenders and insurers involved in contaminated land projects

provide opportunities to meet contaminated land experts and help identify criteria to select appropriate professional advisers in contaminated land projects.

encourage good practice in the assessment and remediation of contaminated land in UK

improve redevelopment of brownfield sites.

Activities will include free training workshops tailored for local authorities, newsletters for contaminated land officers, a directory of members of the contaminated land network and workshop notes.

The network is in line with a programme addressing different aspects of contaminated land and providing best practice guidance that Ciria has developed over the past 12 years with its members, Defra, the DTI, the Environment Agency, industry practitioners and government bodies.

For further information about the Local Authority Contaminated Land Network, and how local authorities can join, visit www. ciria. org. uk, tel: 020 7222 8891; fax: 020 7222 1708; email: enquiries@ciria. org. uk

Training pack

Ciria is producing a training pack to help consultants, engineers, contractors, regulators and local authorities implement remediation projects.

Available in summer 2003, the training pack will cover:

how to deal with issues in the execution of remediation options for contaminated land, including preparation of validation reports, monitoring and aftercare

common problems during the implementation of remedial options and suggestions on how these can be resolved

case studies to demonstrate good practice la list of references relevant to the application of remedial technologies, highlighting when they should be referred to in a contaminated land project.

Further information on the training pack can be found on the Ciria website, www. ciria. org. uk

Cost assessment

Guidance on the costing of environmental pollution from construction is a Ciria publication that sets out simple methods for evaluating pollution potential and costs during pre-contract risk assessment.

It can be used to analyse information on a company's pollution incidents and build up a database to inform future decisions on environmental investment.

Ciria says slow progress in improving environmental performance in the construction industry can be attributed to the perception that pollution incidents have little business impact, mainly because of the low levels of fines and prosecutions.

But as well as clean-up costs, project delays and management time, incidents can affect a company's reputation with clients, regulators and the public, it says.

These costs can be between five and ten times higher than fines.

Recycled information More than 100M tonnes of construction and demolition waste is produced annually in England, Scotland and Wales, it is estimated.

This autumn Ciria is launching a website, the Internet register of recycling sites, which aims to encourage construction firms to be more sustainable.

It will help them source recycled materials and identify better disposal routes for waste products, with attendant cost savings by avoiding landfill charges, landfill tax and transport costs.

Users will be able to search for sites by UK county and by materials. The register will be suitable for use by construction contractors, architects, material specifiers and material processors.

Companies are invited to submit information on appropriate recycling sites on Ciria's website.

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