Contaminated land contractors call for naming and shaming of "failing" local authorities

The Environmental Industries Commission is stepping up pressure on local authorities to allocate sufficient resources to implement the new contaminated land regime. The EIC says it received a sympathetic hearing on the matter in a recent meeting with Environment Minister Michael Meacher.

A report earlier this year showed that many local authorities were not passing on the extra £12 million per year allocated to them by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) for contaminated land work (ENDS Report 305, pp 5-6 ). In England, regulations underpinning the new regime were brought into force in April (ENDS Report 302, pp 36-38 ). Councils must identify contaminated sites in their areas and take steps to require clean-up.

However, only a fraction of the £12 million appears to be finding its way into environmental health departments. As many as 60% of local authorities said they had received no additional funding for contaminated land in 1999/2000, and the picture appears not have improved significantly in 2000/01.

The EIC is pressing the DETR to "name and shame" councils that fail to implement the regime effectively. EIC director Merlin Hyman reports that, at the recent meeting, Mr Meacher showed some interest in the idea.

One possibility is to use the annual Environment Agency report on the state of contaminated land to identify failing local authorities. The first such report is likely to be in 2002 and, Mr Hyman suggests, could include information on local authority spending and other league tables.

"We want to open up to public scrutiny the performance of individual councils," he said. "What we don't want is just another aggregate report showing overall council performance." The EIC is also pressing for naming and shaming of poor performers under the local air pollution control (LAPC) regime.

The Commission also used the meeting to press for speedier progress on devising a new regime for the licensing of contaminated land projects. One possible avenue is through an amendment to this year's pollution prevention and control regulations.

The industry continues to suffer problems under the waste management licensing regime - despite the lighter touch provisions now available for mobile plant (ENDS Report 296, pp 5-6 ). Particular problems are being encountered on the requirements to make financial provisions and to demonstrate technical competence. According to the EIC, the Environment Agency demanded provisions of £500,000 from one company - for a project that was worth just over £200,000.

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