From the 1st of April Defra no longer supports the costs of investigating and remediating contaminated land under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act.
The effective implementation of the Part IIA regime is of vital importance to the health and wellbeing of people throughout England; people living near brownfield sites, common in many of our towns and cities, are significantly more likely to suffer from poor health, including long term illness, than those living in areas with little or no brownfield land.
Local authorities will still be under a legal duty to inspect their area under the legislation, yet they will effectively no longer have the financial resources available to implement the rules. Instead, contaminated land officers will have to make a case for funding to senior management, in a battle against other frontline services.
This situation was highlighted in the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee's 2016 report on Soil Health which presented strong evidence from a number of local authorities that their ability to undertake remediation of contaminated sites where the responsibility has defaulted to the local authority has effectively ceased due to lack of funding.
Terry Fuller, Chief Executive said: "This is an austerity measure which will unfortunately impact on peoples' health as well as on prospects for regeneration, often in areas that need it most. We fear that where there is no commercial incentive for clean-up, these sites are likely to become blighted and unsaleable, causing ongoing health risks and environmental damage. Local authorities have not necessarily tackled their most contaminated sites first, so across England there are still sites that may be affecting human health that have never been investigated. "
CIWEM's letter calls for the government to reconsider its current position on grant funding and also stresses the importance of healthy environments in the government's upcoming 25-year plan for the environment.
House of Commons report on Soil Health