An evaluation of the UK regulatory system for the redevelopment of contaminated land.
Contaminated land can pose risks to human health, buildings and the environment. In
principle, the regulatory mechanisms already exist in the UK to minimize the risks that can
arise from the redevelopment and use of contaminated sites. However there is known to be
wide variation in way the redevelopment of contaminated land has been controlled by
various regulatory authorities. This thesis examines the control system for the
redevelopment of contaminated land in the UK and assessesh ow and why variation in
regulatory standards occurred.
The empirical investigation is based on a comparative case study methodology. Four
regulatory regimes, representing contrasting standards of regulation have served as case
studies. The focus of the study is the redevelopment of former gasworks sites as it is
common for such sites to be contaminated with harmful substances such as coal tar,
phenols, spent oxide, cyanide, sulphur and asbestos. The recommended procedures and
activities presented in official policy and guidance notes provide a benchmark for the
assessment of regulatory practice.
For an analysis of variation this thesis uses a theoretical framework developed from a
critical review of the main approaches within the policy implementation literature and
insights from organizational studies. The regulatory regime is complex and effective
regulation requires input, and action, by various technical experts. For this reason the
research, empirically and theoretically, focuses primarily on the linkage, and/or relationship
between expert knowledge, communication and action for explanations of variation.
The thesis argues that the level of commitment by individual regulatory experts and officers
to the policy aims was a critical factor in explaining the variation in the standards of
regulation. Moreover, for those redevelopments where contaminated land had been raised
as an issue by certain institutional actors then regulatory performance was good