Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy
5. GENERAL LIAISON AND COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES
All communications relating to contaminated land will be directed through the Contaminated Land Officer of Environmental Protection.
Representatives from Council Services have formed a Contaminated Land Working Group. Service areas in addition to Environmental and Consumer Services that will be involved in the inspection process include Economic Development and Tourism, Local Agenda 21 Team, Planning and Development Services, Transport, Access and Waste Management, and Property and Legal Services.
5.1 Information and Complaints
Information and complaints relating to potentially contaminated land are likely to be received from members of the public, businesses or community groups. Procedures, including the Council’s policies on confidentiality, are detailed in Appendix E: Contact Details and Procedure for Complaints Concerning Potentially Contaminated Land.
5.2 Internal Management Arrangements for Inspection and Identification
Within B&NES Council, Environmental and Consumer Services has responsibility for implementing Part IIA of the EPA 1990. The Service’s Scientific Officer (Contaminated Land) is lead officer for contaminated land, reporting to the Environmental Protection Manager. The Contaminated Land Officer will deal with the day-to-day implementation of the Strategy once it has been approved by elected members.
The Contaminated Land Officer will be responsible for serving remediation notices, subject to consultation with the Environmental Protection Manager, the Head of Environmental and Consumer Services and the Legal Adviser.
Elected members will be informed at the earliest opportunity of any plans to designate an area of council-owned land, or land where the Council is the “appropriate” person and may be liable for remediation costs.
Where a site is suspected as being a Special Site, the Environment Agency will be consulted from the commencement of any investigation. Where possible, before authorising or carrying out any land inspection, the Contaminated Land Officer will consider whether it would meet any of the descriptions of land to be designated as a Special Site.
5.3 Land Searches
Land Search enquiries containing questions on contaminated land are currently dealt with by Land Charges, by use of the form CON.29. Further information concerning contamination issues is to be provided by the Contaminated Land Officer once the Contaminated Land regime is fully in place.
5.4 Communication Strategy
The Local Authority has a Community Consultation Policy, detailed in Appendix M: Corporate Policy: Community Consultation.
All communications with the public and other organisations in respect of implementing the Contaminated Land Strategy and dealing with contaminated land issues will be in accordance with the corporate standards for community consultation.
5.5 Statutory Consult-tees
The collection of data on potentially contaminated land will require a high degree of liaison/consultation with both internal and external bodies. The statutory organisations to be approached are:
* Environment Agency
* Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
* English Nature
* English Heritage
* Food Standards Agency
* Statutory Regeneration Bodies (Regional Development Agencies, English Partnerships)
These organisations are listed with contact details in Appendix C: List of Statutory Consultees.
The Local Authority’s main consultee will be the Environment Agency through their role as advisor on contaminated land issues. Working contacts have already been established with the Council’s Environment Agency Area Contact. The Environment Agency and the Local Government Association has compiled a memorandum of understanding that describes how information will be exchanged. The Council will therefore exchange information with the Environment Agency following the guidelines agreed by this national forum.
Actions carried out under Part IIA, which may affect nature conservation interests including protected species, must be carried out with regard to existing relevant statutory legislation and guidance. Appendix O: Nature Conservation Legislation and Guidance Relating to Contaminated Land lists those which are relevant.
5.6 Transboundary Liaison Between Authorities
The Bristol, Gloucestershire and Somerset Environmental Monitoring Committee provides an existing mechanism for ensuring cross-boundary liaison between authorities on contaminated land issues. It has been recognised, however, that a formal notification procedure is needed to deal with site-specific issues. Therefore, the following will be adopted.
If an authority suspects any transboundary linkage may exist then it will notify the appropriate neighbouring authorities within ten working days. If the authority considers that urgent action may be required then this notification should take place immediately.
The two authorities will agree an action plan identifying each authority’s role in determining the status of the land and associated issues. The enforcing authority will be the authority in whose area the source is situated.
All parties accept that the above agreement is without prejudice to the statutory guidance and legislation and any legal advice received. The Secretary of State will be asked to determine any disputes.
5.7 Owners, Occupiers and Other Interested Parties
The Local Authority’s approach to its regulatory duties is generally to seek voluntary action before taking enforcement action. It is intended to maintain this approach for issues of land contamination. This recognises the fact that in many cases, more effective remediation can be achieved by agreement rather than by enforcement.
5.8 The Wider Community
The Local Authority already has several communication practices which may be used for providing information on issues associated with contaminated land. These include:
* ‘Council News’ community newspaper
* The Press Office
* Presentations and exhibitions
* Ward and Town/Parish Council conferences
* Local environmental groups
* Public meetings
* Area Committees
* Council website
These will be used in the public consultation exercise during the inspection process. They will also be used if it is discovered that a potentially large number of people are likely to be affected by a contamination issue, or if it is felt that an issue falls into the category of general public interest.
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