Land contamination is regarded as a ‘negative heritage’ of the Industrial Revolution which began in England and subsequently spread to several developed countries in Europe, the United States and some Asian countries during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Large-scale mining and inappropriate disposal of chemicals are considered to be the primary reasons of large-scale land contamination.
Like all industrialized countries, China is experiencing increased land contamination in recent years. Abandoned mining and manufacture sites and obsolete industrial complexes, while also creating new polluting industrial enterprises, are presenting impending environmental threats. More importantly, a number of social and economic problems have developed and must be dealt with, in some cases, as a matter of urgency in China.
In response, contaminated land laws or regulations have been established and have evolved in the US and UK and many other jurisdictions for decades. Regulatory regimes for contaminated land issues are highly systemic and well developed in those countries. Those regimes have substantially influenced the relevant legislation in the context of numerous Asian and European countries. In comparison, legislation as a response to land contamination is a recent thing in China. Regulations and relevant environmental standards for soil protection are under development at both the central and local government levels. However, considering the difficulties facing the lawmakers in developing contaminated land regulatory regimes gaps still broadly exist under China’s current legal system. This book therefore considers what China can learn from the experiences of other jurisdictions, particularly the complex legislation concerning contaminated land in the US and UK. These two countries have developed advanced systems for the control and prevention of contaminated land problems. Consideration of the liability issues, the commercial issues, the relevant science and other areas such as insurance and valuation have, to some extent, also been adopted by numerous countries.
This book aims to examine those issues as they might apply to China based on a comparative study of various mechanisms for the remediation and redevelopment of contaminated lands. The following analysis focuses on three principal areas. First, what is the extent of China’s contaminated land problem? Second, how can we remediate contaminated sites? Finally, how can we redevelop contaminated lands to an acceptable and safe use? Based on this analysis, several recommendations have been provided for consideration and possible areas for future research.
First of all, China should adopt a more flexible contaminated land liability regime, in which the following principles should be considered. Three principles should be considered while developing a liability regime: the polluter pays principle (PPP); the state liability principle and the retroactive liability principle. Second, remediation mechanisms are suggested for the contaminated land regime. A sitespecific based selection process, risk-based land management (RBLM) and the methodology of cost–benefit analysis should be introduced in China as soon as possible. In addition, remediation standards, together with evaluation systems, should also be considered. Third, environmental liability insurance is suggested as an instrument to reinforce environmental liability regimes. Finally, other mechanisms, such as financial incentives, public participation in contaminated land management issues and environmental decision making, contaminated land information management, environmental education and using consultation in contaminated land cases and public interest litigation, are suggested as possible improvements to the existing regime.
This book will be of interest to academics and practitioners in environmental law of China, as well as the US and UK. I believe that those who want to learn more about China's environmental legislation will get reliable information from this book. More importantly, for students who want to trace frontier issues in China's environmental legislation may also benefit from this book, because it demonstrates a whole picture of how the contaminated land law and policy would be made in China.