The paper examines the historical evolution of the UK approach to contaminated land. It is argued that the rationale and character of the current policy regime are structured by the dominant discourse dealing with the problem. Successive British governments have pursued a 'development managerialist' approach to contaminated land, rather than treating it primarily as an issue of environmental quality or public health. Cost effectiveness has been a recurrent theme in the discourse. It has been made manifest through five key features of the emergent system: (i) the way that contaminated land is defined; (ii) the distinctive liability regime; (iii) the notion of 'suitable for use'; (iv) its 'risk-assessment-based' aspects; and (v) its decentralized, bifurcated structure. A preliminary analysis of the regime suggests that, so far, it has succeeded in containing costs but may leave a toxic debt for future generations to address. In addition, a hitherto un-noted aspect of the contaminated land policy regime is identified; that is, that the differing natures of its two elements - the planning system and Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 ('Part IIA') - have produced operational tensions that affect policy implementation.

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Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning
School of Public Policy and Administration

Catney, P. (Philip), Henneberry, J. (John), Meadowcroft, J, & Eiser, J.R. (J. Richard). (2006). Dealing with contaminated land in the UK through 'development managerialism'. Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, 8(4), 331–356. doi:10.1080/15239080601133831