Practical Application of Environmental Regulation
Hart Environmental was delighted last week to be able to give verbal evidence to the House of Lords Built Environment Select Committee on the impact of environmental regulation on development. We had an interesting discussion which covered a range of topics, but our key messages were:
- The continued drive to manage land remediation under planning through waste permitting is dual regulation and is degrading well established risk-based land quality guidance. Whilst there may be a few exceptions, in general this is not effective regulation or good use of limited regulatory resources and does not add to environmental protection or enhancement.
- The EA voluntarily review some planning applications as the importance of ensuring groundwater and surface water are suitably considered in land quality assessments under planning has long been recognised. The EA Area teams are not funded to do this, and front-line technical teams are staggeringly undervalued and under resourced. Rather than have the EA area teams limited resource be focused on a non-statutory functions, LPAs should make use of industry resources, such as requiring a SQP independent review and NQMS declaration on sites which fall under the already established EA planning risk matrix.
- Environmental initiatives such as BNG, nutrient neutrality, SUDS are all important, but need to be applied in a more coherent manner at a site-specific level, considering all the complexities at each site, including location, affordable housing, the need for remediation. Particularly important on brownfield sites where redevelopment is the only viable way to stop existing pollution.
- Generic high level environmental assessments could be useful to help shape development plans, but land quality issues must always be considered at a site-specific level (and be undertaken by a competent person!).
We were unfortuantely not able to attend in person, which was a missed opportunity we hope to rectify in the future! However a recording of our evidence and the full summary of verbal evidence given so far can be accessed at the link below.
Further written evidence will be available shortly and we will share the link once published.
This is such an important topic and a great chance for industry to share experiences of practical application of regulation. We would recommend engaging with your industry group and urging them to keep checking for active consultations and taking the time to respond.