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Funding axed for clean-up of toxic land

Experts are warning that land contaminated by toxic industrial waste will go undiscovered and untreated following a government decision to axe funding to local councils. The move could put thousands of people who live on or near polluted sites at further risk, they say.

Lord de Mauley, minister for natural environment and science, has written to local authorities informing them that the Government will "no longer be supporting the cost of investigating and remediating contaminated land".

The cost of testing and clearing up sites has meant that, until now, councils have used special funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to treat toxic land when no culpable polluter can be found. It is feared the move will deter local authorities from investigating potentially toxic land because they would not have the money to clean it up. This is contrary to their statutory duty under the Environmental Protection Act.

Typically, contaminated land cases involve houses built on land previously used for industrial or landfill sites where chemicals or gases have seeped into the surface. A 2009 investigation into the clean-up of a former steel works in Corby, Northamptonshire, found toxic waste left at the site caused birth defects in at least 30 children. Contamination also poses hazards including gas explosions, damaged ecosystems and risks to wildlife. David Rudland, chair of Environmental Protection UK's land quality committee, said that he "fear[s] that some ongoing schemes will simply not be completed" because of their costliness.

For the full article use the link below... ...

The Independent