More action needed to protect UK soil health
29 November 2016
The Environmental Audit Committee have released a report stating that the government’s ambition to manage the UK’s soil sustainability by 2030 will not be possible without further action.
There is around 300,000 hectares of contaminated soils across the UK. Our industrial heritage means that hundreds of thousands of sites are contaminated by chemicals - such as cadmium, arsenic and lead, heavy metals, tar, asbestos and landfill.
Environmental Audit Committee Chair, Mary Creagh MP, said: “Soil is a Cinderella environmental issue. It doesn’t receive as much attention as air pollution, water quality or climate change. But, whether we realise it or not, society relies on healthy soil for the food we eat, for flood prevention, and for storing carbon. The Government says it wants our soil to be managed sustainably by 2030, but there is no evidence that it is putting in place the policies to make this happen.”
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have withdrawn their capital grant funding for local authorities to clean-up this contamination. The inquiry heard that without this funding councils are now less able and less likely to proactively investigate potential contamination.
According to this report, failure to prevent further soil degradation could lead to more flooding risks, greater carbon emissions, and lower food security. Some research states that untreated contamination may also severely affect public health and water quality.
Soil is a big carbon sink, storing up to three times as much carbon as the atmosphere, and soil degradation can lead to increased carbon emissions and could speed up climate change. The UK’s arable soils have seen a worrying decline in carbon levels since 1978, with widespread and ongoing decline in peat soil carbon.
Alongside increased emissions, soil is becoming eroded due to the lack of care given to the earth and the long term exposure to chemicals. This also makes soil slowly unfit for use, affecting the quality of grown produce and potentially further damaging public health in the near future. Not only is land remediation important to public health, environmental health is slowly becoming a bigger issue than originally perceived.
You can read the reports and source article here.
VHE work to remediate contaminated land, making it fit for building, growing nature and food, and improving the public’s health. If you are looking for a specialist remediation contractor from one of the UK’s leading land remediation companies, please do not hesitate to contact VHE on 01226 320 150.