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Sites without full history 'will be difficult to sell'

OWNERS OF contaminated sites will have difficulty selling them unless they detail past uses and pollutants affecting the land in a new 'log book' experts claim.

The Land Condition Record, launched at the end of November, has been developed by prominent players in the remediation industry and key brownfield clients with government support. It is aimed at reducing risk in brownfield site transactions and improving time and cost predictability in cleaning them up.

Use of the record is voluntary, but failure to register comprehensive site information when selling a site would slow down transactions or thwart the sale altogether, predicted Mike Summersgill, general manager at remediation contractor VHE Technology .

Lattice (formerly BG Property) general manager Phil Kirby agreed, saying that failure to provide complete land condition details was likely to raise suspicions that the seller had something to hide.

The record is also intended to cut costs involved in site investigation - at the moment the seller, investors and insurers tend to commission their own site investigations and there is no single, authoritative document.

An accredited report will help eliminate this duplication. It will also help investors and insurers identify areas that require additional investigation.

To strengthen the credibility of the Land Condition Record, the Government is backing plans for an accreditation scheme for consultants involved in identifying contamination risk and designing solutions.

The accreditation system would be in place by Easter, said Malcolm Lowe, head of land quality at the Department of the Environment Transport & the Regions.

For a copy of the Standard Land Condition Record contact the Institute of Environmental Management Assessment, tel (01522) 540069.

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