Agenda item

Contaminated Land Strategy (Agenda item 9)

Report of the Executive Member for the Planning, Health and Housing Portfolio (Paul Claussen).

 

The Strategy (Appendix A) is attached as a separate document.

Minutes:

The Council had a duty to inspect its District for potential contaminated land and the existing Contaminated Land Strategy needed to be reviewed.  A revised Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy had been produced by a Task & Finish Group composed of Members and Officers under the direction of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission.

 

The Principal Environmental Health Officer explained that at the Cabinet meeting in November 2010, the financial implications to Breckland Council in dealing with land it owned or might have responsibility towards was requested.  The details of these were highlighted at Appendix B of the report.  This appendix included details of current DEFRA funded investigations being pursued by the Environmental Team.  A Hazard Risk Assessment method had been used which sought to limit the liability to the Council. 

 

Since the review of the strategy document, Central Government had identified the need for additional savings to be made by the Council from 1 April 2011.  Posts that had been vacant had been deleted from the establishment and a full time permanent Contaminated Land Officer post had also been deleted.  The reduced staffing resources would now mean that in delivering the Strategy, the resources would be targeted in the following way:

 

  • Investigating and remediating Brownfield sites through the planning process
  • Complete investigations into three current sites with the funding from DEFRA
  • No further contaminated land investigations under the Strategy would be carried out unless it was clear that further grant aid or additional resources were available from DEFRA or through the Council.

 

Preliminary desk studies would not take place if DEFRA funding did not come forward.

 

The Principal Environmental Health Officer asked for a slight adjustment to be made to the recommendation to avoid having to return the report to Council unnecessarily, which was agreed.

 

The Executive Member for the Corporate Development & Performance Portfolio asked if the liability would still lie with the Council if the original polluter could not be found.  Members were informed that negotiations and talks would be had with the existing land owner so that the original polluter could be located.

 

The Vice-Chairman asked if there were any businesses in Breckland that could produce contamination in future.  The Principal Environmental Health Officer explained that more regulated methods of waste disposal were now in place which was controlled by the Environment Agency.  Lesser issues would be addressed through Nuisance Provision Orders by Breckland Council.

 

Options

 

To adopt the revised Strategy with any amendments Members wished to make and include any appropriate changes as a result of the external consultation as identified in item 3.2.5 of the report but noting the resource implications as identified in paragraph 3.2.6 of the report.

 

Reasons

 

The Council’s current Strategy was out of date and in accordance with auditor requirements needed to be reviewed and updated.  Members were recommended to adopt the revised Strategy subject to any amendments suggested by external consultees as appropriate.

 

RESOLVED that the draft revised Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy be accepted, subject to any external consultation comments.

 

RECOMMEND to Council that:

 

1)           the Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy be adopted as a Council working policy to commence 1 June 2011; and

 

2)           any significant amendments or challenges to the adoption of the Policy during the consultation period to be reported back to Cabinet before the document goes live.

 

Supporting documents: