1.2 General Policy of Bath and North East Somerset Council

Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy
1.2 General Policy of Bath and North East Somerset Council

Working towards a better quality of life for present and future generations lies at the heart of the Council’s Statement of Vision and Values. The Council seeks to deliver a service focused on meeting community expectations regarding the protection and promotion of a safe and healthy environment and to sustain and enhance the health of all who live, work, or visit the area.

Environmental and Consumer Services Customer Charter 2001-2002 states that the service will develop and implement a strategy for contaminated land. The service is founded on the enforcement of legislation through formal action and the promotion of good practice, education and information.

1.2.1 Environmental Issues

B&NES Council has, like many local authorities, an inherited legacy of contaminated land. Much land contamination has been present for long periods of time, largely from the 18th Century onwards as a result of industrial, mining and waste disposal activities.

Sustainability

‘Agenda 21’ was the name given to the global agreement on sustainable development that world leaders signed up to at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. This called on local authorities to work with their communities to develop local policies for sustainable development in the form of Local Agenda 21 action plans.

B&NES Council has formulated a corporate Sustainable Development Policy, which states that the Council will lead by example by ensuring that sustainable development is integrated into all its policies and activities and by managing its own sustainability performance. This includes adopting the principle of “no net loss of biodiversity”.

1.2.2 Enforcement

Appendix B: Enforcement, lists the principles of enforcement that B&NES Council have developed and intend to utilise in the serving of any remediation notices that may be necessary. Further details on the procedures involved in serving remediation notices are given in 4.2.3: Serving of Remediation Notices.

Hardship

Whilst B&NES Council does not have an official hardship policy at present, it recognises the potential financial liability which may be incurred by individuals or companies through the introduction of this legislation. Whilst the legislation does require the clean up of sites by those responsible if contaminated land has been identified, the Council will not place a financial burden upon anyone where it is not appropriate or duty bound to do so.

The person responsible for the liability of any remediation costs will be identified wherever possible.

The Council will seek to minimise the costs of compliance, by acting in accordance with the guidance and ensure any remedial action specified is proportionate to the risks and will bring about remediation to a standard suitable for use.

Building Control within B&NES Council is able to provide information about Environmental Gold; an innovative insurance for contaminated land developed by LABC Services in partnership with Bland Bankart. For more information please contact Building Control on 01225 477517.

Suitable for use approach

Once a site has been determined as contaminated, the Council will adopt a further element of the Contaminated Land Regime – ‘Suitable for Use’. The ideology behind this is to limit the requirements for remediation work to that which is necessary to prevent unacceptable risks to human health or the environment, having regard to current or, as in the case of redevelopment proposals, future use. In this way, the Council will aim to avoid premature or unnecessary work that is unduly burdensome to all parties.

The Suitable for Use approach requires the risks associated with each site to be considered on a site by site basis. The approach will be used firstly to determine where a site meets the definition of Contaminated Land and secondly to consider the level of remediation required.

1.2.3 Public Access to Information

The Environmental Information Regulations 1992 [1] place a duty on the Council to make certain information available to anyone who requests it. The Regulations apply to any environmental information if it relates to any of the following:

(i)  the state of any water or air, flora or fauna, soil or natural site or land; or

(ii) any activities or measures (including activities giving rise to noise/other nuisance) which adversely affect anything mentioned in (i) above or is likely to adversely affect anything above; or

(iii) any activities or administration or other measures (including Environmental Management) or programs which are designed to protect anything so mentioned.

The Council may refuse to make information available if the request is “manifestly unreasonable”, if it is formulated in too general a manner, if it is information to which the Regulations do not apply or is deemed to be confidential.

Details of the Council’s policies on public access to information in regard to contaminated land are given in Section 7.7 Arrangements for Access to Information and Dealing with Requirements for Information of this Strategy document.

1.2.4 Consultation and Involvement of Community Groups and Businesses

The Government has specified certain “statutory consultees” for local authorities during production of their Strategy documents. The Council has consulted with these in the production of this document, and details are included in Appendix C: List of Statutory Consultees. Other relevant groups, as well as the general public, have also been consulted over the Strategy production, and their comments have been incorporated where possible. These organisations are listed in Appendix D: Non-Statutory Consultees.

The Strategy document is available on the B&NES Council website at the following address http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/. Internet facilities are available at libraries.

Hard copies of the Strategy document are available upon request to the Council’s Environmental Protection Section (see Appendix E: Contact Details and Procedure for Complaints Concerning Potentially Contaminated Land). A small fee will be levied to cover reproduction costs.

Consultation will also be carried out in the process of obtaining information of potential sites of contamination; further details are included in Section 4.2.1: Phase 1 - Initial Inspection.

 
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