On Tuesday 8 December 2015 an inquiry opens into an appeal by Jim 2 Limited (“Jim 2”) under section 78L(1) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (“the 1990 Act”) against a remediation notice served on it by Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council on 17 March 2015 (“the Remediation Notice”). The Remediation Notice requires Jim 2 to de-contaminate the land enclosed within the domestic curtilages of 69 residential properties, which form part of the Stonegate Housing Estate, Walsall which forms part of the land formerly occupied by the Willenhall Town Gas Works. The contamination case focusses on Benzo(a)pyrene (“B(a)P”). B(a)P is commonly used as an indicator compound for the mixture of compounds found in combustion products like Gas Works waste . B(a)P is a persistent organic pollutant, which has been designated by the International Agency Research on Cancer as a Human Carcinogen (Group 1), which means that the evidence is sufficient to determine that the agent is carcinogenic to humans, as opposed to probably (Group 2A) or possibly (Group 2B) carcinogenic to humans.
The appeal is believed to be only the second ever made to the Secretary of State under s. 78L of the 1990 Act notwithstanding the regime having been in force for 15 years. The Secretary of State has recovered the appeal in recognition of “the potential policy implications for contaminated land law” and in “view of the challenges raised on the application of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and of the revised Statutory Guidance published in 2012. The appeal is expected to last 2 weeks.