2012 Updates Contaminated Land Sector

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

2012 has seen some of the greatest changes in the contaminated land regime since it was first introduced in April 2000. After a protracted consultation during the formation of the Coalition Government, Defra has issued some new statutory guidance in relation to the Environmental Protection Act 1990 Part 2A (the contaminated land regime). This new statutory guidance came into force in April of this year and replaced Defra Circular 01/2006.

The new guidance is more condensed than the original with a number of changes, particularly regarding clarification on normal or background contamination levels and the legal trigger point of when significant harm is being caused to human health. The clarification on background contamination levels is intended to ensure local authorities focus on higher risk land and to reduce potential blight on land with only normal levels of contamination.

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 marks a significant shortening of existing policy, with Planning Policy Statement 23 (Planning and Pollution Control) now redundant guidance.

Lastly, 2012 has seen radioactively contaminated land stripped out of the Defra guidance and the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) has issued new, separate guidance in relation to radioactively contaminated land.

In other new sector-wide developments, CL:AIRE is delighted to launch its first contaminated land State of the Market Report to its 2011-2012 members. The report includes the sector’s most farreaching survey, including the capture of qualifications and competences from over 1,000 contaminated land professionals and the reporting of up to 7,292 corrective action remediation projects.

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

The unabridged CL:AIRE State of the Market Report 2012, including CL:AIRE technical members’ company profiles, will be promoted to CL:AIRE’s corporate members and will be disseminated to UK governmental departments and to international equivalent organisations to show UK capability. The 2013 report will be available to companies now signing up or renewing as CL:AIRE members.

In June CL:AIRE published its eagerly awaited Cluster Guide. The cluster methodology is designed to offer an alternative way of developing and remediating multiple sites that are located in relatively close proximity. It provides a different strategy to traditional standalone projects and is seen as a more economical and sustainable approach. The guide identifies the key planning considerations required to establish and operate a cluster.

This year has also seen considerable work started on the theme of asbestos in soil. 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.

The JIWG project is working alongside a CIRIA research project in the same thematic area to ensure that the two projects complement and link with a coordinated approach. The JIWG is working very closely with the regulators, including the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), that are reviewing all asbestos-related HSE publications next year and therefore JIWG aims to publish the Asbestos in Soil Code of Practice draft for consultation in November 2013.

The National Planning Policy Framework’s central tenet 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 collaborative work.

In 2010 SuRF-UK published a benchmark framework document, which set out how to embed balanced decision making in the selection of the remediation strategy to address land contamination as an integral part 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 practices that can be applied to remediation projects. The work will all be undertaken using stakeholder workshops to ensure continued SuRFUK engagement with the whole of the

industry. Finally, webinars will also be hosted with presentations of the published case studies and dissemination of the new guidance once it is published at www.claire.co.uk/surfuk.

Another exciting development available to the contaminated land sector is the newly launched CL:AIRE
Remediation Technologies eLearning Suite 2012. The learning suite is fully interactive and provides training on key aspects of undertaking options appraisals and selecting, designing, implementing and verifying different remediation technologies. The suite has been developed in association with the Environment Agency and leading industry experts and is aimed at foundation and intermediate level.

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.

For further information on anything contained in this article please feel free to contact CL:AIRE directly from details provided at www.claire.co.uk

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