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MPs cry foul over withdrawal of contaminated land grants

Published: Thursday, 9th June 2016

Soil Health report argues that without funding councils are less able and less likely to proactively investigate potential contamination…

MPs have criticised the withdrawal of government grants administered by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for cleaning up contaminated land. They are being phased out and will end in 2017.

A report on soil health published last week by the Commons Environmental Audit Committee said that move threatened the development of brownfield land in poorer areas as remediation would be dependent on planning conditions.

According to the report of all sites remediated between 2000 and 2013, it is estimated that 83 per cent (72,000 sites) were dealt with through planning applications rather than through Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

The report goes on to highlight that: “The decline of Part 2A has implications for both health inequality and regional inequality. Contamination in high-value areas such as London will continue to be remediated through planning, while sites in other cities such as Middlesbrough, Liverpool and York will not be identified or remediated at all.”

Committee chair Mary Creagh MP said: “Relying on the planning system to clean up contaminated land may be fine in areas with high land values, but it means that contamination in poorer areas will go untreated.

“Councils simply do not have the resources to investigate which sites are contaminated. Ministers must rethink their decision to phase out contamination clean up grants."

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Roger Milne