The funding for local authorities takes the form of supplementary credit approvals (SCAs) authorising them to borrow money for capital expenditure in excess of their basic credit approvals. Operating only in England, the programme enables councils to investigate and carry out remedial works at sites which they own, or to which they have contributed contamination - such as private landfills - or where they have a responsibility to take action but the costs cannot be recovered from liable parties.
Priority in awarding SCAs is given to sites believed to pose a significant risk to human health or the environment. Most of the money awarded to date has been spent on former landfills.
This year, the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions' budget for the programme is £15 million, and initial allocations were announced in a parliamentary answer in May.
1 The largest has gone to Newcastle City Council, with £793,000 for three sites. Seven other authorities have been allocated more than £0.5 million. As last year, the authority with the largest number of sites covered by its SCA is Sandwell in the West Midlands, receiving £524,000 in respect of 16 sites.
The SCA awards announced in May totalled only £10.2 million. Some funding bids to the DETR are still being discussed with local authorities. Nevertheless, the awards made to date are much lower than the £17.6 million allocation made this time last year.
Last year, the Environment Agency received extra grant-in-aid of £0.5 million for the first time to deal with contaminated sites. The money is being spent at six sites - landfills and manufacturing sites - causing water pollution by solvents, pesticides and other chemicals (ENDS Report 275, pp 7-8 ). This year's allocation is £1.29 million to cover nine sites.