How much would you pay for a business on the site of an old tannery? Given the strong possibility that the land might be contaminated as a result of its previous usage, the answer, increasingly, is that you wouldn't. Few managers would choose to take on the currently unquantifiable liability that might be acquired along with the site. Many brownfield sites are in consequence blighted: the land and any businesses on it are impossible to value, and hence impossible to sell or redevelop.
This blight could be cured by the creation of a land uses register. Such a register would further enable the owners of contaminated land to begin, at least, to quantify their exposure. In dispensing with the concept of a register, the Department of the Environment's Framework for Contaminated Land has done nobody any favours. Sooner or later Britain's toxic land will have to be cleaned up. All the Framework has done is put off the day.