Government's climb-down on contaminated land registers

The contaminated land registers provided for by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 have been rescued from the threat of oblivion - but only just. Revised proposals for the registers issued by the Department of the Environment (DoE) on 31 July will mean that they will contain only 10-15% of the land originally due to have been entered, and create a good deal more administrative work for local authorities.1 Both concessions reflect fierce lobbying against the DoE's initial proposals by property developers and industry, and will result in the omission of activities which have caused serious soil and water pollution.

The establishment of public registers of "contaminative" uses of land was provided for by section 143 of the 1990 Act. The registers will be compiled by lower tier local authorities mainly on the basis of historical land use information. They are primarily intended to alert parties to land transactions to the possibility that land has been contaminated by a past use and to the need to carry out site investigations. They will also permit the id

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