Councils, Agency get help with contaminated land

Supplementary credit approvals (SCAs) totalling £17.6 million have been awarded to 59 English local authorities to help them deal with contaminated land problems at 138 sites. The Environment Agency has also won extra grant-in-aid to tackle water pollution from contaminated sites.

The SCA programme has been run by the Department of the Environment (DoE) for several years. Local authorities receiving SCAs are authorised to borrow money in excess of their basic credit approvals for capital expenditure incurred in investigating or remediating contaminated sites in their ownership - such as landfills - or for which they have responsibility but cannot recover costs from third parties.

The successful bidders for the current year were announced by junior Environment Minister Angela Eagle in a parliamentary answer on 12 June.1 The DoE's budget for 1997/98 is £14 million, and the total SCA award of £17.6 million allows for slippage in councils' expenditure.

The SCAs range in size from £1,000 - awarded to Blackpool Borough Council for a single site - to £1.79 million to Norwich City Council, also for a single site. Other recipients of large SCAs were Surrey County Council (£1.28 million for six sites), Oxford City Council (£1.27 million for one site) and Leicestershire County Council (£0.88 million for one site). The authority with the largest number of sites covered by an award was Sandwell in the West Midlands, which received an SCA of £277,000 in respect of 20 sites.

Ms Eagle also announced that the Environment Agency has received £500,000 in grant-in-aid to cover the costs of works to deal with water pollution from six contaminated sites which are not immediately recoverable from third parties.

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