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Grant cuts' impact on toxic sites 'potentially dangerous'
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has this week sharply condemned the UK Government`s decision to cease funding local authority action on toxic sites which are potentially harmful to human health.
In a letter from Defra Minister Lord de Mauley, councils in England have been told this week that there will be no money for investigating and remediating contamination from next April.
According to the Environment Agency, all over the UK there are thousands of sites that have been contaminated as a result of previous uses. Often this is associated with industrial processes or activities that have now ceased, but where waste products or remaining residues present a hazard to the general environment.
Commenting, Howard Price, CIEH Principal Policy Officer, said:
"Some of those old industrial sites have since been turned-over to housing and some present unacceptable risks to their new owners and their families. But without financial support from the government, local authorities cannot even identify them, let alone ensure they are cleaned-up. The Government's move, at a stroke, effectively negates the statutory duty given to councils by Parliament."
In the year the current Government came to power, Defra gave £17.5M in grants towards the costs of soil sampling, laboratory tests and treating or replacing soils affected by chemical leaks and spills, waste deposits etc. Bids for the scheme have consistently outstripped the available budget in recent years.
"In addition sites already determined as 'contaminated' but which cannot now be remediated will be blighted, impossible for their owners to sell, and an ongoing risk to their health," warned Howard Price.
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health is a leading provider of accredited qualifications in health & safety, food safety, environmental protection, fire safety and first aid and operates in 50 countries. Over 10 million people around the world from the UK to the USA and the Middle East hold a CIEH qualification. Its clients range from small businesses to multinational enterprises such as the Intercontinental Hotel Group; it works with governmental bodies in Hong Kong as well as international agencies such as the United Nations.
12th December 2013