The Contaminated Land Network (CLN) of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) welcomes the Governments’ stance on brownfield development as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This comes after CIWEM previously highlighted concerns with regard to the originally proposed draft policy and further commented on cuts to public funding streams to the brownfield sector, leading to the potential for heightened human health risks and pollution of the environment.

The NPPF was introduced by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) on the 17th March 2012 and is considered by CIWEM to be a considerable improvement on the draft policy. The policy explicitly acknowledges that building on brownfield land should be a priority and states that “Planning policies and decisions should encourage the effective use of land by re-using land that has been previously developed”.

The NPPF further reinforces that development principles should be sustainable and that a site investigation should be undertaken by a competent person to include an appropriate assessment of risk and “after remediation, as a minimum, land should not be capable of being determined as contaminated land under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990”.

Nevertheless, CIWEM recognises that the revocation of the planning policy statement relating to land contamination is a considerable loss which could lead to inconsistencies in the assessment of land and potentially increased legal challenges to local authority decisions.

Revised Statutory Guidance on Part 2A EPA 1990 was introduced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on the 10th April 2012 and includes some considerable changes to the regime which are welcomed by CIWEM. This includes the introduction of a significance test with regards to pollution of controlled waters, four site categories relating to both human health and controlled waters to aid the local authority decision making process for determination of sites and the requirement for a sustainability assessment.

CIWEM recognises the improvements to the previously unwieldy and unclear guidance and believes that the changes could kick start the largely stalled regime.

Danny Hope, Steering Group member of CIWEM’s Contaminated Land Network said:

“We believe that the government could still do more to safeguard human health and the environment whilst promoting regeneration of brownfield sites and would like to see further guidance come from central government. This could include support for development of a skills and competency framework and research leading to development of further generic assessment criteria for assessing soils and groundwater.”

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) is an independent professional body and a registered charity, advancing the science and practice of water and environmental management for a clean, green and sustainable world www.ciwem.org.

Information on CIWEM’s Contaminated Land Network is available at http://www.ciwem.org/knowledge-networks/networks/contaminated-land.aspx.

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