The Soil Guideline Values Taskforce (SGV TF) is a joint initiative between Government Departments, local authorities and other private and public sector stakeholder groups with the primary objective of providing a means of improving the production programme for Soil Guideline Values.
The group was originally set up by the Cabinet Office Business Regulation Team in 2004 in response to perceived delays in the delivery programme for soil guidelines values. The task force originally comprised public sector bodies (Cabinet Office, ODPM, DEFRA, Food Standards Agency, Health Protection Agency and Environment Agency) who are instrumental in the production process. Following a workshop in November 2004 at which a wider cross-section of interested parties were present, the SGV TF was expanded and a number of other parties are represented on the current task force including the AGS.
Business in 2005 has focused on addressing four principal questions which were highlighted at the November workshop as being the most pressing-
i) What do SGVs mean and when should they be used?
ii) How do we speed up production?
iii) What do we do in situations when SGVs generated by the usual methods are very low (below ambient levels or close to or below detection limits)?
iv) What do we do about training and information dissemination?
Since the beginning of 2005 there have been three meetings of the expanded task force resulting in some good progress and interesting debate from various parties.
The first and very fundamental questions above has been considered by a sub-group of the task force. Their report will take the form of a draft guidance document on what an SGV is and how SGVs should be applied. This may in due course be released as part of the CLR series or as an addendum to an existing document.
The question of speeding up production of SGVs has occupied a significant amount of task force time. The EA has resource and time limitations which are also called upon in the programme for development of the CLEA UK model, release of which is expected this summer /autumn. Interesting debate revolves around whether SGV production should take precedence over further examination of the algorithms / assumptions in CLEA. (The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health is particularly emphatic in their wish for the SGV’s to be produced as soon as possible). The AGS and EIC representatives have been more in favour of concentrating effort into refining models to attempt to reduce, or remove, some of the problems associated with “low” SGVs.
Positive moves have been made toward increasing production capability, including proposals to double the EA team by funding two new posts and by attempting to recruit a private sector secondee partially funded by public sector monies.
On other issues, a sub-group has been set up to identify training needs and to produce initial models of how these can be satisfied. In addition the EA has published on its website the first of what will be a series of bulletins on the CLEA programme.
Simon Edwards Merebrook Environmental Engineering Consultants