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Shaun Grey discusses the role of the Specialist in Land Condition Register

There is value in recovering brownfield land for use in a way that builds stronger communities, delivers economic and environmental benefit, and relieves pressure on greenfield land. Brownfield sites have often been used for processes such as town gas production, manufacture of chemicals or pharmaceuticals, waste handling or deposition and bulk storage of fuels. This may leave harmful substances.

The UK puts responsibility for safe site development on the developer, requiring a comprehensive and timely record to demonstrate suitable risk management of land contamination. The Specialist in Land Condition (SiLC) Register identifies a group of professionals who have a high level of competency in investigating and assessing land contamination and other aspects of land condition.

Quality checked information is key if suitable assessment and management of the site is to be demonstrated to planning departments. All parties can gain from regulatory and commercial confidence, as well as minimising costly delays and concerns over residual risks associated with the site.

The SiLC Register

The Register was launched in 2000 to support a consistent approach to the reporting of land condition data. It now plays a key role in improving standards and driving technical excellence among brownfield professionals. It lists professionals with competence in their field and knowledge of the sector. A SiLC is a senior professional with suitable skills and experience, bound by a code of conduct.

SiLC's vision is 'to maintain our high-quality unifying of the assessment of the condition and remediation of brownfield sites which fulfils the needs of public and private sectors and society as a whole' and 'to develop the qualification so that it continues to meet future needs'. The Register is a limited company, run and administered by a Professional and Technical Panel (PTP) and supported by a number of professional bodies and learned societies, including IEMA.

The National Quality Mark Scheme

The National Quality Mark Scheme for Land Contamination Management aims to raise the standard of planning applications for brownfield sites and streamline the process of dealing with land contamination issues. Documents are checked for quality by a suitably qualified and experienced person (SQP). The Register is capable of qualifying professionals as SQPs, so an applicant who becomes a SiLC can also become an SQP.

The National Brownfield Skills Framework

The Register produced the National Brownfield Skills Framework to support the development of competence and help practitioners on their career path. It defines the capabilities pertinent to those in the industry. These are descriptions of behaviours, skills and knowledge that underpin practitioner performance, in both the private and public sectors.

Become a SiLC

This is a high-level qualification. Applicants with appropriate chartership or membership of professional institutions are tested through open-book exam and interview to maintain standards and build confidence in the sector. The SiLC Affiliate Scheme helps graduates and experienced individuals to work towards chartership and SiLC status. Career development and progress towards registration is supported by the National Brownfield Skills Framework.

Register for IEMA's 11 September webinar 'SiLC scheme: Promoting regulatory and commercial confidence in brownfield risk management and reporting' at bit.ly/33ZDM9S

There is an opportunity for an IEMA SiLC technical representative on the PTP; interested parties should contact the author. SiLC works with Contaminated Land Forums nationally. More information can be found at www.silc.org.uk

Shaun Grey, MIEMA CEnv SiLC is an environmental safety and sustainability advisor at the UK Ministry of Defence.

Picture credit: iStock