In France, long-term policies and programmes exist in the traditional industrial regions, led by Lorraine. Since the 1980s, within the framework of national
planning contracts (contrats de plan) funded jointly by the central government, the regions and the EU, specific brownfield reclamation programmes have
been developed. It was important to create a new economic base and modernize urban and infrastructure structures that had previously been geared exclusively
to industrial use. Altogether, 3,350 ha of derelict industrial land had to be reclaimed between 1987 and 1998. Due to the regional predominance of derelict
land, a joint intervention of national, regional, and local actors was necessary. As it was clear from the beginning that it would not be possible to immediately
find new uses for all of these sites, the strategy developed in 1986 concentrated on the rapid improvement of ecological conditions by means of large-scale
landscape treatment projects. Preparation of the land for new uses, which is much more costly, will be a medium- and long-term task. Therefore, all efforts
were focussed on overcoming the negative image created by brownfields. The programme priorities were based on:
• first and foremost – the rapid identification of brownfields
• the creation of a regional development agency
• a clear and comprehensive methodology - Basic Landscape Restoration
• adequate and regular funding
• a partnership of all stakeholders
• support for the preparation and development of derelict land for the implementation of leading projects with regard to the development of the urban area.
Basic landscape restoration (requalification sommaire) is clearly preferred if no after-use project has been planned.
The derelict land strategy known as 'Remise en état' (site restoration) involves:
• demolition and clearing
• earthwork and landscaping, fencing or screen planting
• construction of recreational paths
• where necessary, treatment of contamination using all available legal instruments to make the polluter pay
Subsequently, the land is to be managed on a regional level and in individual cases is left to the open real estate market. The executive body of this part of
the programme is the regional Public Land Management Authority (Establishment Public Foncier de la Métropole Lorraine EPML, 1996). An example of the French
policy can be found on the EPFL web site. EPML was entrusted with carrying out this strategy. Since 1970, EPML, which was created by the French government to implement
land policies with local authorities, has been undertaking planning and development tasks.
Similar bodies exist in other regions: Nord-Pas de Calais, Basse Seine, Ouest Rhône-Alpes, etc.
Others initiatives have been developed in the regions. For example, MBM (Mission Bassin Minier http://www.missionbassinminier.org) contributed to the
implementation of management tools based on citizen participation in Nord-Pas de Calais. Existing tools (e.g. Urban Workshops, Permanent conferences,
Inhabitants participation fund) have therefore been tested by MBM at a European level within the framework of the European Commission's 5th Framework Programme
RESCUE (http://www.rescue-europe.com). Many 'Good practices' (methodological guidelines and references) have been compiled by MBM in a 'Citizen participation'
manual within the RESCUE partnership.
Legal aspects will be covered by:
• Law on environmental permits for industrial sites
• Mining Code, for former mines (Mining Code recently modified to take into account the cessation of mining activity and the closure of mines)
• Civil Law Code (liability of property owners for harm caused), Urban Planning Act for the redevelopment of brownfield sites, in the urban context
• specific regulations concerning historical building preservation and new qualification
The Law of February 2, 1995 created a tax on special industrial waste to finance the remediation of 'orphan' sites or sites whose owners are insolvent.
Nevertheless, it is important to note the existence of decrees for the institution of the Public Land Management Authorities or EPF (e.g. Institution Decree
of the Lorraine EPFL no. 73-250 of March 7, 1973). These agencies are delegated to carry out French policy. This transfer of responsibility is demonstrated
by the fact that all EPF are set up and their missions fixed by decrees (for instance, Lorraine EPFL: no. 73-250, 07/03/1973).
The Circular concerning the Siting of establishments that accommodate sensitive populations was signed on February 8, 2007. It recommends that such buildings
not be built on contaminated land, especially when the latter are former industrial sites. The actions to be undertaken by the site owner are described.
However, urban planning documents or social constraints might rule out any alternative and an uncontaminated site can be chosen. Such a decision must be
backed by a cost-benefit assessment for each location. In this case, the circular provides owners with a list of strongly recommended actions in order to be
suitable for such a project.
Other legal texts came into effect on February 8, 2007:
•Circular BPSPR/2005-371/LO concerning the Closure of Classified Installations - Chain of liability - Defaulting of responsible parties. This circular
emphasizes and updates directives concerning the management of industrial sites whose owners fail to fulfil their obligation to remediate and can lead, as
a last resort, to government intervention to protect the population and the environment. Beyond this action toward liable parties, the role of the government
is limited to ensuring the safety of Classified Installations. A strict limitation of the scope of public action and the upholding of the highly exceptional
character of ADEME intervention to ensure the safety of sites alone guarantees that the system is not perceived by liable parties who might not wish to comply
with requirements to remediate as an opportunity for non-compliance or even a right.
•Circular BPSPR/2006-77/LO concerning Classified Installations - Application procedure for the detention of funds as mentioned in Environmental Code