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Grants cuts blight homes and risk public health

Publication Date: 10th December 2013

Subject: Public health

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) today sharply condemned the Government's decision to cease funding local authority action on toxic sites which are potentially harmful to human health.

In a letter from Defra Minister Lord de Mauley, councils in England have been told this week that there will be no money for investigating and remediating contamination from next April.

According to the Environment Agency, all over the UK there are thousands of sites that have been contaminated as a result of previous uses. Often this is associated with industrial processes or activities that have now ceased, but where waste products or remaining residues present a hazard to the general environment. [1]

Commenting, Howard Price, CIEH Principal Policy Officer, said:

“Some of those old industrial sites have since been turned-over to housing and some present unacceptable risks to their new owners and their families. But without financial support from the government, local authorities cannot even identify them, let alone ensure they are cleaned-up. The Government’s move, at a stroke, effectively negates the statutory duty given to councils by Parliament.”

In the year the current Government came to power, Defra gave £17.5M in grants towards the costs of soil sampling, laboratory tests and treating or replacing soils affected by chemical leaks and spills, waste deposits etc. Bids for the scheme have consistently outstripped the available budget in recent years.

Continuing, Howard Price, said:

“In addition sites already determined as `contaminated` but which cannot now be remediated will be blighted, impossible for their owners to sell, and an on-going risk to their health.”

[1] See http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/research/planning/33706.aspx?style

Notes to editors:

  • The CIEH is the professional voice for environmental health representing over 10,000 members working in the public, private and non-profit sectors. It ensures the highest standards of professional competence in its members, in the belief that through environmental health action people's health can be improved
  • The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) is a leading provider of accredited qualifications in health and safety, food safety, environmental protection, fire safety and first aid and operates in 50 countries. Over 10 million people around the world from the UK to the USA and the Middle East hold a CIEH qualification
  • The CIEH’s clients range from small businesses to multinational enterprises like the Intercontinental Hotel Group. We work with governmental bodies in Hong Kong as well as international agencies like the United Nations
  • The CIEH’s 60 qualification training programmes are delivered through a network of over 10,000 registered trainers. The training is developed for the varied skill levels within organisations. They cater to different learning styles and preferences through a series of flexible structures. CIEH qualifications are OFQUAL (formerly QCA) accredited and are valued and recognised throughout the world
  • For more information about the CIEH visit www.cieh.org
  • For CIEH media enquiries, please contact Andrew Hamadanian on 020 7827 5922 or 07944 262 100