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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 09/03/2004
WEYDON LANE CLOSED LANDFILL: ENVIRONMENTAL
ASSESSMENT WORKS



Summary & Purpose
This report sets out the need for, and costs involved in, carrying out an environmental assessment to aid the design of a remediation and restoration scheme at the former landfill site at Weydon Lane, Farnham.

The Council has duties at this site as both landowner and as the authority responsible for implementing statutory contaminated land controls.

The proposed site investigation will determine the adequacy of existing pollution prevention measures and will also identify what additional works, if any, would be needed to bring the site back into use.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
N/A



Note pursuant to Section 100B(5) of the Local Government Act 1972

An annexe to this report contains exempt information by virtue of which the public is likely to be excluded during the item to which the report relates, as specified in those paragraphs of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 indicated:-

Any terms proposed or to be proposed by or to the Authority in the course of negotiations for a contract for the acquisition or disposal of property or the supply of goods or services. (Paragraph 9)

Any instructions to Counsel and any opinion of Counsel (whether or not in connection with any proceedings) and any advice received, information obtained or action to be taken in connection with:-

(a) any legal proceedings by or against the authority; or

(b) the determination of any matter affecting the authority

(whether, in either case, proceedings have been commenced or are in contemplation). (Paragraph 12)


The appointment of a specialist site investigation contractor is recommended. The financial and environmental implications are detailed.

Former landfill sites have the potential to affect their surroundings in various ways. This investigation will quantify these affects and allow a programme to protect the local environment to be designed should that prove to be necessary. It is envisaged that, in time, full restoration of the site will be undertaken following consultation with the local community to ensure any facility provided has positive benefits to all.

E-Government implications:

It is not considered that this report has any implications for e-Government.

Resource and legal implications:

The resource and legal implications are set out in detail in the body of the report.



Introduction and Background

1. Weydon Lane Closed Landfill Site covers approximately 4 hectares and is situated on the southern edge of the Wey Valley in southwest Farnham. A plan of the site is attached as Annexe 1 to this report.

2. Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (the Act) came into force on 1st April 2000. Under Section 78B(1) of the Act, Waverley Borough Council has a duty to inspect its area for the purpose of identifying contaminated land and enabling it to decide whether any such land should be designated as a special site. To describe how the Council is going to carry out its duty under the Act, a formal Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy has been produced and was adopted by the Executive at its meeting on 9th April 2002. This strategy states that the Council will deal with its own sites that may be contaminated as a priority in order to put its own “house in order” as well as expecting others to follow suit.

3. Identifying land as contaminated land must be carried out in accordance with the statutory guidance contained in DETR Circular 02/2000, “Contaminated Land.” This guidance sets out that, whilst a local authority may receive and rely on information from other persons, including the Environment Agency, the actual determination remains the sole responsibility of the local authority. Although information already

exists regarding Weydon Lane, this is not sufficient at this stage to reach a view on whether the land is or is not contaminated in the manner set out in the statutory guidance. Waverley is responsible for ensuring all such investigations as are necessary to provide the further information needed to make a final determination are undertaken.

Information and Advice to Local Residents

4. The issues associated with potentially contaminated land have the capability to have an impact on the local community. Officers are proposing to inform the local residents of the need for the environmental assessment prior to any works taking place. It is considered that this should be in the form of a “letter drop”. Clarity of information and a good understanding by the community of the works being undertaken, combined with a consultation process about a restoration scheme, will be important elements of the context in which decisions about the site will eventually be made.

5. The land was originally acquired by Farnham Urban District Council (UDC) under the Physical Training and Recreation Act 1937 and there was a covenant contained in the transfer that the land was to be used as a public open space. There is currently no officially authorised access to the site. However, the chain link and chestnut paling fences have been broken down in several places and local residents use the site as an open space, primarily for dog walking.

Resource Implications

6. The contract to carry out the environmental assessment was tendered in accordance with the Council’s Contract Procedure Rules. Details of the returned tender prices are set out in (Exempt) Annexe 2.

7. The environmental assessment works will comprise a comprehensive investigation which will include a desk study; soil sampling; installation of leachate groundwater and gas monitoring points; a monitoring and sampling programme and laboratory analysis of these samples. Carrying out of such investigations is a specialised and technical task. It is therefore necessary to employ contractors to carry out this work on the Council’s behalf. Contractors have been asked for prices and proposals so that the investigation is written into a final interpretative report that includes:-

the results of the investigation and a risk assessment to establish if the site is posing a risk;

an assessment of the effectiveness of the existing control measures; and

recommendations for remediation if required.

8. Officers are proposing the site should be restored to full and safe community access for informal recreation which is the use the land was originally obtained for under the Physical Training and Recreation Act 1937. A funding request was made to the SITA Environmental Trust on this basis to part fund the feasibility project. The Trust has agreed to part fund the investigation by way of a Landfill Tax Credit grant of up to 22,500. A meeting with a SITA representative in January 2004 confirmed this funding offer was still valid.


9. As part of the SITA bid process, Farnham Town Council was approached and has agreed to contribute 1,000.

10. To fund the remainder of the works will cost approximately 11,650. Further details of the funding are set out in (Exempt) Annexe 2.

11. The Waverley contribution towards the cost of the investigation can be accommodated within the 2003/04 approved capital programme to deal with Contaminated Land.

12. It should be noted that this is the first stage of the process and relates to determining the adequacy of existing pollution prevention measures and the identification of what additional works, if any, would be needed to bring the site back into use. The funding of any remediation required and the restoration is not included in the figures provided.

Legal Implications

13. Information provided by the investigation might lead to the site being designated as contaminated land. If this is the case there may be further cost implications to this Council and others as “appropriate persons” to ensure it is suitable for its intended use. Without the information the site investigation would supply, it is not possible to predict the likely costs or the potential liabilities. This matter would necessitate further detailed investigation dependant on the outcome of the required investigation.

14. If the results of the investigation suggest the site fits the definition of contaminated land, it may also be a special site if a controlled watercourse is being polluted. If this were the case, the Environment Agency would become the enforcing authority. However, even if this were to happen it would not remove any liability the Council may have to fund the remediation by “appropriate persons”. Again, it is not possible to speculate on the likelihood of such a designation being made without the information the site investigation would supply.

15. Furthermore, in the event that the site is designated as contaminated land, both Farnham UDC as Waverley’s predecessor authority, and Surrey County Council have used the site for land filling and may have some degree of liability as “appropriate persons”.

Conclusion

16. Contaminated land is perhaps one of the most difficult and potentially costly environmental issues allocated to local authorities to deal with, both legally and practically. However, it is clear that a detailed environmental assessment is needed to aid the planning of remediation and restoration at the former Weydon Lane landfill. This is required not only to satisfy the Council’s responsibilities under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 but also to restore the site to full and safe community access for informal recreation, the use the land was originally obtained for.


Recommendation

It is recommended that:-

1. the Director of Environment and Leisure be authorised to enter into a contract with the suggested contractor detailed in (Exempt) Annexe 2 (being the most advantageous tender) to undertake an environmental assessment to aid the planning of remediation and restoration at the former landfill site at Weydon Lane, Farnham;

2. the sum of up to 11,650, contained in the approved 2003/04 Capital programme, be used to finance the shortfall between the estimated cost of the investigation and the external funding sources identified in table 1 of the (Exempt) Annexe and paragraphs 8 and 9 of this report;

3. a communication exercise be undertaken with the local residents to explain the need for the environmental assessment prior to works commencing on site; and

4. the findings of the site investigation be the subject of a further report to the Executive together with proposals for restoring the site.


Background Papers (DoE&L)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.



CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Paul Sheehan Telephone: 01483 523435

E-mail: psheehan@waverley.gov.uk

comms/executive/2003-04/480
35879