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The Urban Task Force's drive to increase the amount of construction on brownfield land received a massive blow this week when the European Commission ruled that the subsidies awarded to help reclaim large slices of contaminated land are illegal. Brussels officials warned that government money, given to developers to build on certain types of contaminated land, amounts to the UK giving an unfair competitive advantage to businesses located here. The ruling is a threat to the main plank of the government's regeneration policy, particularly for housing. The secretary of state for the environment, transport and the regions, John Prescott, recently demanded that 60 per cent of new housing in the southeast must be built on brownfield sites.

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