Successfully managing land contamination - a regulator's perspective from the Environment Agency's Trevor Howard.
The Environment Agency (EA) has a number of roles and responsibilities relating to land contamination, including being a land owner, developer, researcher, advisor and regulator.
Site owners, developers and consultants also often want the EA to underwrite or sign off investigations, risk assessments or remediation projects. But this is something that goes beyond The EA's remit.
Instead, it is important that developers and their representatives take responsibility for the work they do to manage land contamination.
Planning policy statement (PPS) 23 makes this clear, stating:
'Where development is proposed, the developer is responsible for ensuring it is safe and suitable for use for the purpose intended.'
One way to increase a regulator's condence is to clearly demonstrate that best practice guidance has been followed.
For the UK, CLR 11 the Model Procedures for the Management of Land Contamination, describes what should be considered at each stage in the process and what other guidance should be referred to.
The Model Procedures describes three stages. First, risk assessment - the formal, tiered process of identifying, assessing and evaluating the health and environmental risks that may be associated with the hazards on site.
Second, options appraisal - identifying feasible remediation options, selecting the option or combination of options that is most appropriate and producing a strategy for their implementation.
Third, implementation of the remediation strategy - dening the implementation plan and then designing, procuring and verifying the remediation. Long term monitoring and maintenance are also covered.
These must be completed in order as the outputs from each stage help dene the scope of the next.
Aligned with CLR11, the Agency has also published Environment Agency guidance on requirements for land contamination reports.
This provides information about what we expect reports to cover, and includes check lists for key stages.
Sustainability should be a key factor in all the decisions made by developers, consultants and regulators. For remediation, sustainable alternatives to dig and dump are becoming ever more widely available and attractive.
Last year the launch of the mobile treatment licensing system and guidance on the denition of waste for development sites helped address some of the waste issues associated with remediation, but work in this area is ongoing.
Properly documenting what has happened on a site is important.
Ve r i cation should be built into the project from the start and not left until the end.
The EA is currently nalising guidance on the verication of remediation of land contamination, to improve understanding and promote consistency in this area.
With more sustainable remediation options has come the need for long term monitoring and maintenance where required.
This is recognised in CLR11 and the verication guidance mentioned above. Where necessary, provisions will need to be made for funding it, carrying it out and submitting results to the regulators or other interested parties.
Clear objectives and criteria must also be set, to identify the need for further monitoring or response actions.
For many this is a change to the traditional view that the project ends when the earthworks or development are completed.
Land affected by contamination is most effectively managed and brought back into benecial use when all of the parties involved work together.
Trevor Howard is a Land Contamination Policy Advisor in the Environment Agency's Head Of ce Environment Protection Directorate.