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An examination of contaminated land sector activity in England and Wales - SP1011

Project Aims and Objectives: The aims of this project are three-fold and will involve the commissioning and analysis of data from Local Authorities, the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales on contaminated land sector activity. Some of this data will be on activity under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (the Contaminated Land Regime) from 2000 to present, which is being commissioned under the statutory obligation of the Local Authority to provide this information to the Secretary of State (England) and Natural Resources Wales. This will underpin the publication of new separate ‘State of Contaminated Land’ Reports for England and for Wales by the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales respectively (the first aim of the project).
The second aim of the project is to gauge the level of understanding in the sector of key principles that were introduced under revised Statutory Guidance , implemented by Defra and the Welsh Government in April 2012.
The third aim of the project is to investigate the impact of the revised Part 2A Statutory Guidance on the contaminated land sector in England and Wales. This will also rely partly on data gathered from Local Authorities but will extend beyond the scope of Part 2A activity and include, for example, an assessment of contaminated land activity that is carried out under the planning regime.
Although this project is being advertised as covering England and Wales, only the England coverage is confirmed at this time. The decision as to whether it will also cover Wales will not be made until nearer the project start date.

Objective 1: Design and deliver a survey of all c.350 Local Authorities that will facilitate the requirements of the data-set Defra are looking to achieve and which will ensure as much as possible a high response rate.
The survey should also be structured in such a way as to impose the least burden possible on Local Authorities in terms of time and staff resource spent on answering it.
We anticipate that the survey will be delivered electronically to the relevant audience (Local Authorities) but you must demonstrate in your proposal the functionality within this medium that will allow for the data to be appropriately analysed. There is also a need to demonstrate how the new data will be analysed comparatively against the previous reports.
You must also demonstrate in your proposal how the data will be quality assured, how data protection issues will be addressed and an appropriate process for chasing responses and ensuring best possible levels of return.
Relevant parts of the survey will be carried out by the contractor with official endorsement from the Environment Agency in line with their statutory duty under the Act to prepare and produce these reports. An indicative timeline is attached at Annex A.
The contractor will work closely with both the Contaminated Land Team in Defra and the Environment Agency on putting together the questionnaire. The content of the questionnaire must be agreed in partnership with Defra and the Environment Agency. The detailed data requirements will be supplied to the successful bidder at the start of the project, but include:
• the number and type of contaminated land sites assessed by Local Authorities since 2000
• the level of funding for Part 2A site investigations and remediation and how much of this has been supported by Defra’s capital grants scheme
• The understanding of planning officers of the relevant sections of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (and preceding guidance), where land contamination and Part 2A are referenced
• the extent to which applications under planning are referred to contaminated land officers, and the outcome of this referral
A list of key areas that the questionnaire will cover can be seen at Annex B. For reference, the questionnaire used to collect data for the previous report is attached at Annex C. Please note that this questionnaire is included as a guide to length and type of questions that will be asked and will need to be modified and updated according to the needs of this project. As mentioned above, the final questionnaire must be agreed with Defra. As part of Government’s commitment to minimise burdens on local Government and small businesses, there will be a requirement to process the questionnaire through Defra Survey Control. Approval in principle in Defra has already been received for this survey. The estimated timescale for getting clearance is around 4 weeks and the contractor should factor this into their projected timeline.

Objective 2 (subject to confirmation): Extend objective 1 to include Wales (c. 22 Local Authorities and the regulator Natural Resources Wales).
This element of the project is currently under review and whether the Welsh Local Authorities will be surveyed will not be confirmed until nearer the project start date. Please provide separate costs for this objective. Time taken for inclusion of the appropriate branding and translation into Welsh must be incorporated into the project plan. As for objective 1, the content of the questionnaire must be agreed in partnership with Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales and must be approved by Welsh Government Survey Control.

Objective 3: Review, quality assurance and analysis of the responses
As part of this objective you will need to design a system and format for summarising the data, comparing it to the previous results (where appropriate) and submitting it to Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales to support the production of State of Contaminated Land reports. This will be in addition to determining appropriate summary statistics for the final report for this project.
Separate analysis is required for the data from England and from Wales. There is no need for combined statistics for England and Wales.

Objective 4: Assessment of the impact of the revised Statutory Guidance
Also drawing on evidence beyond that collected in the objective 1/2 survey:
• What evidence is there that the revised Statutory Guidance is having an impact on contaminated land activity under Part 2A and the planning regime?
o What is the impact?
o Has there been a change in activity through the use of the 4-category approach as outlined in the revised Statutory Guidance?
o How can changes in the contaminated land sector be attributed to the revised Statutory Guidance rather than the economic climate or other developments (the revised National Planning Policy Framework for example)?
• How do individual local authorities ensure decision making both under Part 2A and the planning regime is consistent? Do local authorities work together to ensure a uniform approach nationally?
• Have Local Authorities changed their priorities and procedures since the introduction of the revised Statutory Guidance? Has this affected the risk-based approach to tackling land contamination?
• How clear to Local Authority contaminated land officers are the principles in the revised Statutory Guidance?
• Can further clarity within the Statutory Guidance help Part 2A decision-making?
• What evidence is available (both within local authorities and the wider sector including relevant stakeholder groups and developers) about:

o the level of understanding the contaminated land sector and developers have of the principles in the revised Statutory Guidance?

o What training and additional guidance is now available that supports Part 2A decision making?

Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : SP1011 - Assessment of Contaminated Land Activity - England   (1438k)
• FRP - Final Report : SP1011 - Assessment of Contaminated Land Activity - Wales   (1165k)
• FRP - Final Report : SP1011 - Assessment of the Impact of the revised Statutory Guidance   (1147k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2013

To: 2014

Cost: £91,698
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Cranfield University