2012 Updates Contaminated Land Sector

John Henstock, project manager at Contaminated Land: Applications in Real Environments (CL:AIRE), looks at a significant year for the contaminated land regime.

2012 has witnessed some of the greatest changes in the contaminated land regime since it was initially established in April 2000. When the Coalition Government was being formed, Defra produced new legislative guidance in respect to the Environmental Protection Act 1990 Part 2A, which was the subject of extensive comment (the contaminated land regime). This new legislative guideline came into force in April of this year and replaced Defra Circular 01/2006.

The new guideline is more concise than the original with a number of revisions, mainly addressing clarification on normal or background contamination levels and the legal trigger point of when considerable harm is being caused to human health. So that local governments can better focus on high-risk land and lessen the impact of contamination on low-risk land, the background contamination thresholds are being clarified to guarantee that they focus on high-risk land.

In March Greg Clark, minister of state at the Department for Communities and Local Government, announced the Government’s launch of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which has the aim to make the planning system less complex and more accessible, to protect the environment and to promote sustainable growth.

The NPPF also signals a dramatic shortening of current policy, with Planning Policy Statement 23 (Planning and Pollution Control) being redundant instruction.

Finally, in 2012, radioactively contaminated land was removed from the Defra guidance and a new set of guidelines from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was produced.

In other new sector-wide developments, CL:AIRE is thrilled to present its first contaminated land State of the Market Report to its 2011-2012 members. Over 1,000 contaminated land professionals were interviewed for the research, which comprises the most comprehensive survey of its kind, and up to 7,292 restoration initiatives were documented.

The goal of the State of the Market Report is to provide CL:AIR E members with market knowledge, statistics and context to develop their business and to provide them with visibility and promotion as supportive voices of CL:AIRE’s ideals.

For the benefit of CL:corporate AIRE’s members as well as UK government departments and foreign equivalent organisations, the full 2012 CL:AIRE State of the Market Report will be pushed, including company profiles of CL:AIRE technical members. The 2013 report will be available to companies now signing up or renewing as CL:AIRE members.

CL:AIRE released its long-anticipated Cluster Guide in June. The cluster methodology is aimed to give an alternative means of creating and remediating many sites that are positioned in reasonably close proximity. It gives a new strategy to standard standalone initiatives and is viewed as a more economical and ecological method. The guide covers the major planning elements required to develop and operate a cluster.

Asbestos in soil has also seen a significant amount of activity begin this year. The Asbestos in Soil, Made Ground and Construction Materials – Joint Industry Working Group (JIWG) was established in November 2011 after the Environmental Industries Commission and CL:AIRE formally joined forces and then invited a wide range of both private and public sector organisations that are all looking to work together to meet the challenges posed by asbestos in soil.

Together, the JIWG and CIRIA projects on the same topic are working to ensure that their approaches are complementary and linked in a coordinated manner. For this reason, the Joint Inquiry Working Group (JIWG) plans to publish a draught Asbestos in Soil Code of Practice for public comment in November 2013 in collaboration with regulators such as the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), which is now evaluating all HSE publications connected to asbestos.

The National Planning Policy Framework’s key premise of a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” now heightens the importance of the work of the Sustainable Remediation Forum-UK (SuRF-UK), which has just announced phase three of its joint work.

In 2010 SuRF-UK produced a benchmark framework document, which set out how to include balanced decision making in the selection of the remediation approach to address land contamination as an important aspect of sustainable development. The phase three work includes the publication of a series of case studies using the framework and will develop guidance for assessors to help them undertake simple qualitative (tier one) sustainability assessments and guidance on generic best management practises that can be applied to remediation projects. The work will all be performed through stakeholder workshops to guarantee continuing SuRFUK involvement with the whole of the industry. Finally, webinars will also be organised with presentations of the published case studies and dissemination of the new guidance once it is available at www.claire.co.uk/surfuk.

Another intriguing advancement offered to the contaminated land sector is the recently announced CL:AIRE\sRemediation Technologies eLearning Suite 2012. The learning suite is completely interactive and gives training on essential areas of completing options appraisals and selecting, designing, implementing and verifying different remediation solutions. Foundation and intermediate students will benefit from this set, which was created in collaboration with the Environmental Agency and prominent industry professionals.

The ten courses comprise the following subjects: Options Appraisal, Monitored Natural Attenuation, Permeable Reactive Barriers, Air Sparging/Soil Vapour Extraction, Ex-situ Bioremediation, Chemical Oxidation, Stabilisation/Solidifcation, Insitu Bioremediation, Soil Washing, Insitu and Ex-situ Thermal Desorption.

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Last Updated on December 29, 2021


Author: Indra Gupta

Indra is an in-house writer with a love of Newcastle United and all things sustainable.

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