M A Smith




The Interdepartmental Committee on the Redevelopment of Contaminated Land





ICRCL trigger concentrations




The Interdepartmental Committee on the Redevelopment of Contaminated Land (ICRCL) was set up in 1976 following the involvement of the Department of the Environment and the Department of Health and Social Security, in giving advice about the health hazards which might be involved in the redevelopment of a number of individual sites. These sites included for example a tannery in Kent, a former sewage farm in Leicestershire (Beaumot Leys) and the former Woolwich Arsenal, which was to become the site of Thamesmead. It was foreseen that there would be increasing pressure to develop old industrial sites for housing, schools or amenity purposes, particularly in the major towns and cities. The Committee was seen as a mechanism for the co-ordination of the advice being given by different Government Departments and in particular for translating medical advice into practical ameliorative or remedial measures.


The Committee consisted of representatives of the Department of the Environment (DOE), the Welsh Office (WO), the Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS), the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF). Membership from within DOE was drawn widely to provide coverage of appropriate expertise and administrative interests and included the Environmental Protection Group of Directorates, housing Directorates, planning Directorates (responsible for the administration of Derelict Land Grants), the Property Services Agency (PSA) and the Building Research Establishment. Although Northern Ireland and Scotland were not represented directly on the Committee, Committee papers were sent to the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment and the Scottish Development Department.


 The main concerns of the Committee were human health and safety and wider environmental effects. It was found necessary however, to broaden the interests of the Committee to take some cognisance of other problems, such as construction problems and the durability of building materials, as these can have an indirect bearing on human health and safety, and the quality of life.


The terms of reference included requirements to develop, and coordinate advice and guidance on human health hazards arising in connection with the re-use of contaminated land; to develop and co-ordinate advice regarding possible remedial measures; to make such advice available to local authorities; to advise the Department of the Environment as to the appropriateness of the methods selected by local authorities; and to identify research needs. A Circular (DOE 49/77, WO/77) announcing the setting up of the Committee was sent to local authorities in June 1977.


Between 1977 and 1980 the Committee has met at six monthly intervals. In between meetings the business of the Committee was carried forward by the Secretary, with the assistance of individual members of the Committee as necessary. The Secretary's duties included initiation and management of a research programme, advice to local authorities on individual cases, publicising the work of the Committee, promoting a wider interest in the technical problems posed by contaminated land, and preparation of draft guidance documents.


After about 1981 the Committee appears to have ceased to function as such, although DOE (and its successor Departments) continued to act in its name into the early 1990s.

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Copies of ICRCL guidance documents can be obtained at: