Draft revised statutory guidance relating to the contaminated land regime in England and Wales (Part 2Aof the Environmental Protection Act 1990) has been laid before Parliament with associated regulations.
The contaminated land regime under Part 2a has been in-place for over 10 years and the guidance is key to the understanding regulatory control. During the implementation phase, which I provided as part of the project team within the Environment Agency, this was an important aspect of the training for Local Authorities and Agency Inspectors during their roles to identify and deal with contaminated land, which presents significant risks to human health or the environment.
The draft guidance fine-tunes the existing guidance to be more, user friendly and to reduce regulatory uncertainty (and inconsistency) over what constitutes contaminated land to achieve a more proportionate impact, & thus avoiding unnecessary remediation and to assist market mechanisms for dealing with remediation.
Key to the new guidance is a four category test intended to clarify when land does or does not need to be remediated. Additionally, guidance on liability and remediation is shortened but remains, substantially, unchanged and the reasonableness of remediation will continue to be a key part of discussions in relation to land once it has been determined.
In relation to long anticipated statutory change to the definition of contaminated land in relation to the pollution of controlled waters, the threshold for the definition is to become higher moving away from the existing thresholds of “pollution of controlled waters” or such pollution is “likely to be caused” to “significant pollution of controlled waters” or “significant possibility of significant pollution of controlled waters”.
Unless Parliament decides otherwise, the revised guidance will become effective around 6 April 2012 and will replace the current guidance. Revised regulations, the Contaminated Land (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 were, also, laid before Parliament and, which similarly, will come into force on 6 April 2012.
For further deatils on the draft statutory guidance laid before Parliament, please see http://bit.ly/wHZPXB.