Throughout the UK there are thousands of sites which have been contaminated by previous industrial use, often associated with traditional processes which are now obsolete and which may now present a hazard to the general environment.
There is now a growing requirement for such land to be reclaimed and redeveloped, either for new industrial use, or for the building of new housing on "brownfield" sites to relieve the pressure on "greenfield" sites and preserve the countryside.
The first priority in dealing with contaminated land is to prevent the creation of new contamination. To help with this, there is legislation in place aimed at the prevention of such pollution, the most significant being:
- Integrated Pollution Control (IPC)
- Pollution Prevention & Control (PPC)
- Waste Management Licensing
Although the prevention of new contamination is of critical importance, the "historic" pollution of land is the main focus of the new Contaminated Land Regime which came into force on 14 July 2000.
The new regime is set out in Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as inserted by section 57 of the Environment Act 1995.
The regulatory role under Part IIA rests with Scottish local authorities.
To summarise, the role of each authority under Part IIA is:
- to cause their areas to be inspected to identify contaminated land
- to determine whether any particular site is contaminated land
to act as enforcing authority for all contaminated land not designated as a "special site" (SEPA will be the enforcing authority for special sites)
The main objective of the regime is to provide an improved system for the identification and remediation of contaminated land where the contamination is causing unacceptable risk to human health or the wider environment.
East Ayrshire Council has now developed its inspection strategy for the identification and remediation of contaminated land so that our obligations under the new legislation can be met.