Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy
4.6 Site Specific Liaison
4.6.1 Owners

Once a site has been identified as requiring a detailed inspection, all reasonable efforts will be made to contact the landowner or occupier. Once the landowner has been contacted, they will be given a written explanation of the legislation and reasons why the land has been identified as requiring an inspection. A request will also be made to arrange a suitably convenient time for the inspection to be made.

It is hoped that, in most cases, inspections will be undertaken with willing co-operation landowners who will be given the opportunity to accompany the inspecting officer. However, if the landowner fails to respond within a period of 28 days or is unwilling to allow a local authority officer or representative to undertake an inspection, the Council will exercise its powers of entry.

Once an inspection has taken place, the landowner will be kept informed of the findings to the point where no further action needs to be taken.

4.6.2 Appropriate Persons

If the information available suggests it is not initially the landowner who might be considered the appropriate person, reasonable effort will be made to contact the appropriate person and inform them of the need to perform an investigation. The explanation of the legislation and the reasons for the investigation will be stated in the same way as for the owner of the land. In all cases, effort will be taken to obtain the cooperation of the appropriate person.

Ultimately, however, it is the landowner who can give his/her consent for an inspection to take place, and failure by an appropriate person who is not the landowner to respond to a request to make an inspection will not delay the procedure.

4.6.3 Environment Agency

Where it seems likely that a site will later be designated as a Special Site, contact will be made with the ‘Area Contact’ from the Contaminated Land team at the Environment Agency (Appendix C: List of Statutory Consultees). The owner or appropriate person will then be contacted to arrange a date for the inspection which is acceptable to all involved.

4.6.4 English Nature/English Heritage

The Local Authority will ensure that it takes all reasonable precautions to avoid harm, water pollution or damage to natural resources or features of historical or archaeological interest which might be caused as a result of an intrusive investigation or remediation. Consultation with the Council’s Ecologist and Archaeological Officer will take place to aid this where appropriate.

Before carrying out intrusive investigations or remediation on any area notified as being of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or Natura 2000 site, the Local Authority will carry out early consultation with English Nature on any action which, if carried out by the owner or occupier, would require their consent[5].

Records will be kept detailing the status of any nature conservation interest before and after remediation and/or investigative works, as well as measures of the success or side effects of the techniques which are used. This will assist in the development of ‘best practice’ methods for B&NES and other local authorities around the country.

English Nature is committed to the following tasks:

* Assisting Local Authorities and others in carrying out their responsibilities towards SSSIs and Natura 2000 sites, including the issuing of assents/consents and Appropriate Assessments, respectively, for inspection/remediation activities.

* Assisting Local Authorities and the Environment Agency over Special Sites, in the determination of ‘Ecological System effects’[6].

* Advising Local Authorities over their responsibilities when implementing Part IIA towards nature and geological conservation, including ‘best practice’ for inspection and remediation.

* Advising Local Authorities over sources of advice and expertise for best practice and ecological monitoring under Part IIA.

Whilst recognising the need for commercial confidentiality, addressing nature conservation interests at an early stage can save time and money for all concerned. Therefore, a list of potentially contaminated sites for SSSIs or Natura 2000 status will be forwarded to English Nature for assessment. The Council will also submit this list to Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre (BRERC) for assessment against the presence of notable or protected species and County Wildlife Sites/Regionally Important Geological Sites (RIGS).

[5] Under section 28, Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended)

[6] as defined in DETR Circular 02/2000.

4.7 Statutory Powers of Entry

The Environment Act 1995[7] allows the local authority to authorise a person to exercise statutory powers of entry.

Before the Local Authority undertakes an inspection using such powers, it will be satisfied, on the basis of any information already obtained:

* That there is reasonable possibility that a pollutant linkage exists on the land.

* That in all cases of intrusive investigation it is likely the contaminant is actually present and given the current use of the land that the receptor is actually present or is likely to be present.

An inspection using the statutory powers of entry will not be undertaken in the form of an intrusive investigation if the Council has already been provided with detailed information on the condition of the land, which provides an appropriate basis to determine whether the site is contaminated land. This situation would also apply where a person offers to provide such information within a reasonable and specified time period and subsequently provides the information.

[7] Section 108(6)

4.8 Health and Safety Procedures

Any investigations undertaken by Local Authority employees, such as sampling potentially contaminated ground, will be subject to good health and safety practices. The Local Authority’s Safety Advisor will be consulted as appropriate and employees will be required to utilise appropriate protective clothing.

As part of the tendering process, external contractors will be required to submit a Health and Safety method statement to demonstrate that all investigative work will be carried out in a safe manner and to the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and all other statutory requirements.

4.9 Risk Communication Strategy

The SNIFFER[8] document, ‘Communicating Understanding of Contaminated Land’’ [11] will be used to provide guidance on liasing and communicating with individuals and groups.

Through the Bristol, Gloucestershire and Somerset Environmental Monitoring Committee, the Local Authority will have the benefit of advice from Officers in neighbouring Authorities, many of whom have considerable experience in dealing with large-scale contaminated land issues. Advice will also be sought for developing practical techniques and procedures for dealing with the communication of risk to local communities.

[8] Scotland and Northern Ireland Forum For Environmental Research.

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