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Time to put waste management at heart of construction industry

Regeneration of brownfield land is a keystone of current government thinking, but developments are stalling because of lack of clarity about the legislation, according to the Environmental Industries Commissions contaminated land working group vice chair Clive Boyle. Site remediation is often a key point on the critical path for brownfield and regeneration projects, so effective site remediation can be critical in ensuring site development programmes are met and developers expectations are met, he said. All those involved in contaminated site remediation need three things: clarity, certainty and consistency in the application of legislation and regulations. In the past legislation has been less than clear. It is becoming clearer, but all stakeholders need to see that it is clear. People want clear rules to work to, he added. Certainty is also very important for developers. They dont want to push forward with a major development on the basis that everything will be alright, Boyle said. Rules must be as prominent as possible. They must also be applied with consistency. All too often in the past, rules have been interpreted differently on different sites, according to Boyle. One of the hottest hot topics is soil guideline values, he said. These are the levels that are set to determine if remediation is needed and to what level. Theres still considerable debate about where these levels should be set, and a good degree of uncertainty about the levels we should be working to. One of the most frustrating aspects of contaminated land remediation for developers, engineers and contractors alike is the extent to which the issue is inextricably linked with waste management legislation. Currently - and for the foreseeable future the remediation of contaminated land is seen as being a waste management activity, Boyle explained. The lack of clear guidance in this area does cause problems for practitioners in the industry, and potentially delays or adds to the cost of brownfield development. Some of the earthmoving activities carried out by developers and contractors on site can be brought within the remit of waste management activity, which requires permits. Its an area in which guidance is eagerly awaited from the Environment Agency. Developers must be frustrated and confused about why these very irrelevant issues keep coming up, he added. I imagine that they are thinking Im building houses why do I need to know about waste?" Visit the Civils Exhibition to find out more Civils is the UKs largest exhibition to encompass the needs of the civil engineering industry while reflecting on opportunities available within the sector.Civils 2007 once again has a great focus on networking, responding to the way this industry likes to do business. It is supported by both New Civil Engineer magazine (sister publication of MRW), and the Institution of Civil Engineers the key forums for the exchange of information and learning in the sector. Every aspect of the civil engineering industry will be represented at the exhibition - from major industry clients through to a range of top quality contractors and consultants. For those involved in asset management, recycling and waste management, the sessions on Tuesday November 20 are likely to be of considerable interest, with the focus on regeneration. The morning session is dedicated to major projects and opportunities in regeneration including both the Olympic Games infrastructure and Thames Gateway development. This is followed by an entire session on the remediation of contaminated land, chaired by Clive Boyle, vice chair of the Environmental Industries Commissions contaminated land working group. The session will also raise the subject of sustainable remediation and feature a case study of Englands first hub and cluster soil treatment facility, currently being developed in the Sheffield area. Later the same day, the conference will switch focus to concentrate on waste management regulation, infrastructure and protocol. Speakers include Arup director Allan Barton, John Galvin, head of DEFRAs waste licensing unit, and Dr Richard Swannell, director of market development organics at WRAP. There is an environmental theme through much of the conference, with the midday session on Wednesday November 21 looking at sustainable engineering and the zero carbon agenda, and the afternoon session including a presentation on reducing, reusing and recycling materials in airport construction. This is based on a case study of work done at Jersey Airport. Civils 2007 will be held in Londons Earls Court 2 on November 20-22. Image: Clive Boyle

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