William Eichler 14 September 2016

Whitehall rejects calls for restoring contaminated land grants

The Government has rejected a call by auditors for contaminated land grants to be restored.

A report by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) found funding for local councils to clean up contaminated land was ‘insufficient’.

It recommended the creation of a dedicated funding stream for Part 2A contaminated land remediation, and proposed Defra undertake a detailed assessment of its decision to cut capital grant funding.

The department for environment, food & rural affairs (Defra) withdrew capital grant funding for local authorities to clean up contaminated soil in 2013.

The EAC published a report last June which estimated 300,000 hectares of UK soil is contaminated with toxic elements - such as cadmium, arsenic and lead - as a result of the UK’s industrial heritage.

It warned at the time councils would be less likely or able to tackle this without central Government funding.

‘Cash-strapped local councils need funding to deal with contaminated land that could pose a risk to public health,’ said EAC member Mary Creagh MP, responding to Whitehall’s rejection of the committee’s proposals.

‘Defra’s decision to abolish capital grant funding for contaminated land has all but halted councils’ ability to investigate and clean-up contaminated sites.

‘It is disappointing to see the Government has ignored our recommendation to reinstate this.’

‘Contaminated sites in areas with high land values will be cleaned up by developers, but sites in areas such as Middlesborough, Newcastle, Liverpool, Cornwall and York risk not being investigated or cleaned up, blighting homes and ruining lives,’ she added.  

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