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Clean-up Costs Could Hold Back Brownfield Development

October 9, 2015
Environmental Protection

The government’s plans to prioritise simplified planning routes for brownfield development should include targeted funding to help developers deal with the most heavily contaminated sites, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). The news comes as many experts are beginning to question proposals to kick start housing development on potentially contaminated sites.

DEFRA’s contaminated land capital grant programme, which produced 250 applications from local authorities, was abolished this year leaving a significant funding gap. The decision to cut the grant process was described by government officials as “regrettable but necessary.” Now, David Rutland, Chair of Environmental Protection UK’s land quality committee is warning that the move has led to a reluctance amongst local authorities to address contaminated land issues.

“With no alternative source of funds, councils are not very keen to go looking for contamination in case they find it,” He told the Daily Telegraph. “To prove the existence of contaminated land, there needs to be investment in the investigation and testing process. Most of the officers I’m in touch with report no budget to do this.”

In DEFRA’s final round of funding, only 37 applications received the money they applied for, while a further 137 councils received only partial funding or no money at all. A total of £500,000 a year subject to funds being available has been introduced until 2017 as part of a new contingency fund. The amount however is in sharp contrast to the £30.7 million offered by DEFRA to cover clean-up costs between 2011 and 2015.