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Land: Contamination

Volume 461: debated on Thursday 21 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when his Department last assessed the available technologies for cleaning up contaminated land. (144436)

The choice of technologies for the remediation of land contamination is a matter for those responsible for taking action at a particular site. My Department has helped fund the Contaminated Land: Applications in Real Environments (CL:AIRE) organisation, which provides independent reports on trials of individual technologies in this field.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department has targets for making good contaminated land. (144437)

My Department has not set targets for the remediation of contaminated land.

In April 2000, part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 created a new framework for the identification and remediation of contaminated land in England, in circumstances where there has not been any identifiable breach of a current pollution prevention regime.

The framework places a duty on local authorities in England to identify contaminated land in their area, and to ensure that the appropriate remedial action is taken. Where land has been identified as ‘contaminated land’, the local authority will seek the person who caused or knowingly permitted the presence of the substances causing the problem to carry out any necessary remedial works. Where this person cannot be found, for example because a company is no longer in existence, the landowner may be the appropriate person, subject to detailed rules in the Act and the accompanying guidance (DEFRA Circular 01/2006).

The regime allows for voluntary remediation, and also for the authority to carry out remediation on behalf of those considered liable, allowing the authority to recover the cost. As a last resort, the authority can serve a remediation notice requiring work to be done, subject to the usual right of appeal. The regime also recognises that remediation can also be secured through the planning system in appropriate cases.