§ Mr. Hayward
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when the Government response to the Environmental Select Committee's report on contaminated land will be published; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Trippier
The Government's response is being published today and a copy has been placed in the Library. We welcome the report as a valuable contribution to the debate on contaminated land and confirm the need to safeguard against risks to human health or the environment.
In identifying areas for further assessment and action the Government have been able to accept or consider many of the Committee's recommendations. The Government response looks at the scale of the problem, analyses the need for more information on extent and location of contaminated sites and goes on to consider a suitable framework for protection and the opportunities for supporting clean-up action. This includes review of the scope for further research and evaluation.
The Government have already gone ahead with proposals in the Environmental Protection Bill for publicly accessible local authority registers of potentially contaminated land uses. A programme of work on a more comprehensive system of quality standards for dealing with contamination is now proposed; this will build upon current Government approaches to guidance, but at this stage stopping short of the statutory requirements recommended by the Committee. The Government already provide grant aid on some aspects of work on contamination and propose further to assess available technology including possible demonstration projects on the latest clean-up techniques.