What is Contaminated Land?
Contaminated land is defined, by the Environmental Protection Act 1990, as land with substances in, on or underneath where:
Significant harm is being caused or there is significant possibility of such harm being caused.
Pollution of controlled waters is being, or is likely to be, caused.
The term 'harm' is used here to describe damage to any of the following:
- Human beings
- Ecological systems and living organisms within protected sites or reserves
- Property in the form of crops, produce, livestock, owned or domesticated animals and wild animals which are subject to shooting or fishing rights
- Property in the form of buildings, including ancient monuments
Throughout the UK there are thousands of sites that have been contaminated by past activities or practices. These may present a threat to the environment and pose a risk to human health. Many of these sites are cleaned up during the planning process as the government has encouraged building on "Brownfield sites", land that has been used for industrial purposes in the past. Some sites however may remain that may cause a risk if they are left as they are.
What is the council's responsibility?
The government introduced legislation in 2000 that required local authorities to produce a contaminated land strategy laying out how they inspect land in their areas for contamination and how they will deal with any contamination that is identified.
View the council's Contaminated Land Strategy [.pdf]
Our strategy describes how we will identify and prioritise sites for further investigation, as well as information about liability, enforcement and remediation; and contacts that we draw on for advice and expertise when we conduct investigations.
What land has the council identified as contaminated?
As part of our contaminated land strategy we have a duty to maintain a public register of all details of regulatory action we have taken under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in relation to contamination.
When we identify a site as being contaminated land there is a formal determination process. We then have to set about having the site "remediated" or brought to a condition that does not pose a risk of harm.
At present our public register has no entries.
Land Search Enquiries
We receive a growing number of enquiries about potential contamination as a result of questions solicitors are asking during property purchases. We are able to answer such questions only where they relate to known facts and information regarding our work under the Contaminated land legislation.
We are not able to act in the role of a consultant providing interpretation of facts or advice to purchasers that goes beyond our duties under the legislation.
The following sites contain further information about contaminated land:
- Food Poisoning - advise us of an incident
- Food Hygiene - business premises complaint
- Make a noise complaint
Got a question about environmental health?01424 451079
CommentsThe content on this page is the responsibility of our Environmental Health team.