11Oct / 2018
The Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) recently published “Building on Brownfield”. Using research, case studies and recommendations, the report details how the current regulatory system for redeveloping brownfield land is failing, meaning the capacity for building more homes on developed land is being limited.
“Building on Brownfield” reinforces the argument that local council funding cuts are depriving environmental and planning services of crucial resources. The expertise required for regulating the development of brownfield land is rapidly disappearing. Fewer site visits to check remediation work and lack of scrutiny of verification reports are resulting in a deterioration of industry standards.
- 39% of councils have no dedicated Contaminated Land Officer
- 23% said that they had no in-house specialist resource
- 13% of councils perform routine site visits to check remediation work on brownfield sites
- 3% said they no longer perform any site visits
In addition to this, economic pressure on developers is pushing them towards lower cost and ultimately more risky remediation solutions.
One of the most concerning statements made by the report is, “A natural risk of having fewer council specialists with higher workloads is that proper scrutiny may not always be given to reports submitted by developers… The risk is that we are drifting towards a system that essentially relies on ‘self-certification”
It remains crucial that information submitted to support the case for brownfield land development is acquired by independent third-party representatives. This is the only way impartiality can be achieved and informed decisions made.
To address the current systems shortcomings, “Building on Brownfield” sets out five recommendations for how the brownfield regulatory and enforcement system could be strengthened.
- Make Building Control a meaningful component of the broader brownfield remediation regulatory system
- Increase resources for local authority contaminated land functions
- Enhance Land Remediation Tax Relief
- Standard conditions
- Tougher fines
Simon Talbot, Managing Director of GGS, had this to say, “The level of homelessness, the cost of first time homes and the age of the UK’s housing stock make an increased rate of house building a national priority. The key messages of this report are vital to ensure the homes we need are built safely. The government should take on board the report’s positive recommendations.”
Click here to read the full report.
Click here to visit the EIC website.