Local authorities could require such work to be carried out as a condition of granting planning approval, and the statements would be collected into a partial register.
The Government has only itself to blame for this latest U-turn. Its first proposal would have meant including dry cleaners and blacksmiths on the register, which would have ended up covering most of the country - including the Department of the Environment's Marsham Street headquarters.
Opponents claimed it would send house prices into a further downward spiral and make urban regeneration impossible.
Had the register been properly handled, much of the fuss about land blight would have died down - as the case of the Merry Hill shopping centre near Birmingham demonstrates. Last year, a US investor pulled out of a purchase because of concern about contamination. Earlier this week, it was sold for pounds 10m more after an investigation showed there was no problem. The Government was using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.Reuse content