Contaminated land regime
The Contaminated Land Regime, which is set out in Part 3 of the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, has been enacted but is not yet in force. This regime is very similar to that provided in Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in England, Scotland and Wales. A timetable for implementation of the regime has not been agreed and further updates will follow in due course.
This regime supports the 'polluter pays' principle and is intended to manage issues arising from historic contamination. It is fully retrospective in action. The District Councils will be the primary regulators for the regime and initial activity will focus on the preparation of site inspection strategies which are to be completed within 12 months of the regime being in place.
Some amendments to the primary legislation are being made to facilitate the implementation of the regime. These are to be achieved through the current Waste Bill which will shortly be the subject of a consultation published by the Department of Environment Planning and Environmental Policy Group.
In assessing and managing risks from contaminated land NIEA seek to apply good practice guidance and the UK technical framework detailed in the Model Procedures for the Management of Land Contamination (CLR 11) 2004.
The following guidance is equally applicable to the development of land affected by contamination, via the planning process, via voluntary remediation actions or any measures undertaken under the forthcoming contaminated land regime.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) seeks to promote good practice in assessing and managing the risks due to land contamination and recommend application of the UK framework as laid out in the Model Procedures for the Management of Land Contamination (CLR11) 2004 report.
The previous guidance (CLR7-10 and the soil guideline values) has now been withdrawn and the new documents can be downloaded from the Environment Agency website (link above).
The DOE Industry profiles provide developers, local authorities and others interested in contaminated land, with information on the process, materials and wastes associated with individual industries. They also provide information on the likely presence of contamination, the effect of mobility of contaminants and guidance on potential contaminants. They are not definitive studies but they introduce some of the technical considerations that need to be borne in mind at the start of an investigation.