What is contaminated land?

Land contamination is usually caused by previous industrial use or the deposition of waste such as heavy metals, oils and tars, solvents, gases, asbestos and radioactive substances.

Legal definition

The legal definition set out in Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 defines contaminated land as "land where substances could cause significant harm to people or protected species and/or significant pollution of surface waters or groundwater".

Our responsibilities

The council is committed to enforcing relevant legislation relating to contaminated land by:

  • publishing a contaminated land strategy
  • carry out inspections of land that may be contaminated
  • identify those responsible for the clean-up of the site
  • formally declare land as contaminated
  • keep a public register of contaminated land site.

Our register of contaminated sites can be downloaded below.

Developer responsibilities

Where land is to be redeveloped, it will always be more appropriate to deal with contamination issues through the planning regime protocol, National Planning Policy Framework (NPFF).

Under the planning regime it is the responsibility of the developer/purchaser of the land to identify any potentially harmful substances and materials present at the site before applying for planning permission. If this is not done planning permission may still be granted but certain conditions will be attached to the application.

Although the responsibility of investigating and cleaning up (remediating) the site lies with the developer, the council will work with the developer to ensure that the contamination is removed and the site made safe for the new development.

For guidance on cleaning up land identified as potentially contaminated see the land contamination and the planning process download below.

For a list of environmental consultancies who can undertake the clean up on the developer's behalf see the download below.

Public requests for information

A public request for information is normally used when members of the public, solicitors or environmental consultancies want specific questions answered about a site. This is a chargeable service; please contact us on the details below for our fees.

Pollution Team