United Kingdom:-  Statistics and related

Glossary Entry
The United Kingdom (UK) is a Constitutional Monarchy made up of four semi-autonomous countries: 
England, Northern Ireland, Scotland & Wales. The latter three having devolved authorities responsible
for some environmental regulation and policy making relevant to soil and water. The UK covers an area
of 242,500 square kilometres & has a population of 59 million, similar to that of France and Italy.
United Kingdom Overview: Facts and Figures

1 Land Contamination

Various estimates have been made of the extent of the problem. In its report Contaminated Land, published in 1993, the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology referred to expert estimates of between 50,000 and 100,000 potentially contaminated sites across the UK, with estimates of the extent of land ranging between 100,000 and 200,000 hectares. The report did comment, however, on international experience, which suggests that only a small proportion of potentially contaminated sites posed an immediate threat to human health and the environment. More recently, the Environment Agency has estimated that that there may be some 300,000 hectares of land in the UK affected to some extent by industrial or natural contamination.

1.1 England and Wales

1.1.1 Number of Sites Determined as Contaminated Land

As of May 2005, the number of sites formally determined as Contaminated Land under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in England stands at 305, and can be broken down as follows:

Part IIA regulatory Activity - England

LA Determinations

Special Sites

Remediation Statements

Remediation Notices

Remediation declarations

Special Site Inspections

2000/01

13

2

0

0

0

7

2001/02

21

11

9

2

0

22

2002/03

39

2

13 (9 special)

1

0

28

2003/04

9

5

2

1

0

42

2004/05

221

1

17 (3 special)

0

1

26

2005/06

2

1

0

0

0

0

Totals

305

22

41 (12 special)

4 (0 special)

1 (0 special)

125

The latest figures can be found on the Defra website at http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/land/contaminated/faq.htm

1.1.3 Estimated Number of Sites Potentially Affected by Land Contamination

This is a difficult figure to derive and the answer one arrives at depends upon both the data sets and the definition used. In England and Wales the term "sites potentially affected by land contamination" is taken to mean the totality of sites that have had a use that could have lead to land contamination. It does not measure whether that contamination exists nor whether it poses a risk of harm to human health or the environment. Under the UK's risk management framework it therefore is a measure of whether a potential hazard exists.

 

1.1.4 Estimated Number of Sites Identified as Being Affected by Contamination

Recent work by the Environment Agency, DEFRA and the Welsh Assembly Government estimates that in England and Wales there have been between 30,000 and 40,000 sites identified as being affected by land contamination equating to 55,000 to 80,000 hectares. (Source: Indicators for Land Contamination (2004 in Preparation))

A similar exercise is currently being undertaken by SEPA and the Scottish Executive but has not reported yet. No such information exists for Northern Ireland.

1.1.5 Estimated Number of Sites Remediated

Recent work by the Environment Agency, DEFRA and the Welsh Assembly Government estimates that in England and Wales there have been between 18,000 and 25,000 sites remediated for land contamination equating to 32,000 to 55,000 hectares. (Source: Indicators for Land Contamination (2004 in Preparation))

A similar exercise is currently being undertaken by SEPA and the Scottish Executive but has not reported yet. No such information exists for Northern Ireland.

2 Brownfield Land

The term Brownfield Land in the UK means "Previously Developed Land" and is the opposite of Greenfield Land which is farm land, public open space and park land etc. Brownfield Land does not necessarily mean that it is affected by contamination and thus the UK's definition differs to that used by the majority of other Countries in Europe.

Previously Developed Land is defined as:

 

"land is that which is or was occupied by a permanent structure (excluding agricultural or forestry buildings), and associated fixed surface infrastructure. …. Previously developed land may occur in both built-up and rural settings. The definition includes defence buildings and land used for mineral extraction and waste disposal where provision for restoration has not been made through development control procedure."

In England, as at 2002, there was 33,420 Hectares of previously developed land. (Source: National Land Use Database at http://www.nlud.org.uk )

3 Scotland

There is no single source of information available which indicates the extent of contaminated land in Scotland. This is a reflection of the fact that the term "contaminated" may take on a different meaning in different circumstances: for example, contaminated land may be land posing a risk, land which has chemicals on it or even land which is suspected to be contaminated. There are various sources of information which may be used to provide an indication of the extent of contaminated land in Scotland.


Public registers established under Part llA
Part llA State of Contaminated Land Report
Scottish Vacant and Derelict Land Survey (SVDLS)
State of the Environment: Scotlands Soil Resource

4 Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the Environment and Heritage Service developed a Land Use Database in 1996 that identifies approximately 12,000 sites where current or previous land use may give rise to contamination of the ground. Currently this database is being further updated and the data verified for the Region.

5 Water

5.1 England and Wales

English and Welsh Environmental Data: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/yourenv/?lang=_e

English and Welsh Surface Water Quality

Summary tables of results and river quality maps from the General Quality Assessment (GQA) of rivers.

Groundwater Facts and Figures for England and Wales: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/subjects/waterres/groundwater/894222/?version=1&lang=_e

5.2 Scotland

Scottish Environmental Data: http://www.sepa.org.uk/data/index.htm

Scottish Surface Water Quality

Year 2000

A1 Excellent (km)

A2 Good (km)

B Fair (km)

C Poor (km)

D Seriously Poor (km)

Unmonitored (km)

Total (km)

Baseline

3,090

5,903

2,176

573

18

12,645

24,404

Minor streams

 81

187

280

269

56

178

1,051

Total

3,171

6,090

2,456

842

74

12,823

25,455

Percentage

25%

48%

19%

7%

1%

5.3 Northern Ireland

Water Quality Information

 

Rivers|

Lakes |

Groundwater |

Estuaries & Coastal |

Bathing Waters |

 

Authors
Bob Barnes
Environment Agency, United Kingdom

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