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Contaminated Land Cuts Put Public at Risk

June 3, 2016

A new report by the governments Environmental Audit Committee has critisised DEFRA’s decision to withdraw funds for contaminated land clean up, saying that the move could put the public at risk.

The Committee estimates that there are up to 300,000 contaminated sites in the UK, which they say are less likely to be cleaned up by Local Authorities due to a lack of central government funds. MP’s have put their faith in the planning system to solve the problem but committee chair, Mary Creagh is skeptical about that approach.

“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. Ministers must rethink their decision to phase out clean-up grants,” she said. “Our industrial heritage means that hundreds of thousands of sites across the country are contaminated by chemicals, heavy metals, tar, asbestos and landfill. Councils simply do not have the resources to investigate which sites are contaminated.”

Funding for contaminated land clean up peaked at £17.5 million in 2009/10 before falling to just £2 million in 2013/14 in anticipation of a complete withdrawal in April next year. The authors of the report also expressed concerns about the health of the nation’s soils which have shown a sharp decline in carbon levels and which could lead to reduced food security, increased greenhouse gas emissions and greater risk of flooding.

You can view a copy of ‘Soil Health’ HERE.