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22Oct92 UK: COST OF CONTAMINATED LAND 'UNDERESTIMATED'.

Current estimates of a £50,000 million bill to clean up contaminated land are too conservative and ignore the effects of contamination spread through air and water.That was the claim last week by Richard Lilleywhite, chief executive of new consultant Environmental Risk Assessment.ERA is backed by construction cost consultant E C Harris, consulting engineer Ove Arup, chartered surveyor Cluttons and insurance broker W J Bailey.Mr Lilleywhite warned: 'Anyone with property investments or loans secured against property is going to have to assess the value of the property and land. They cannot do that without an assessment of whether the land is contaminated and, if so, how much it will cost to clean up.'He claimed that pollution affects more sites than so far estimated because pollutants can be spread through air, water and by groundwater in soil.Government plans for contaminated land registers, due to come into force next year, would now include only some 15 per cent of the 100,000 ha suspected of being polluted.The property industry is still lobbying the Government to give landowners a way of getting sites off the register once they have been treated.At present, even cleaned sites would still be registered, leading to fears that vast tracts of former industrial land will be blighted, causing investors to shy away from affected urban regeneration projects.

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