Contaminated land

Local land that has been contaminated by past industrial work, including gasworks, chemical works or landfills can contain harmful substances.

The Council is committed to enforcing relevant legislation relating to contaminated land. We:

  • publish a contaminated land strategy, which outlines how to identify contaminated sites in the vicinity of contaminated land
  • carry out inspections of land that may be contaminated
  • identify those responsible for the clean-up of the site
  • keep a public register of contaminated land site

In some cases the Environment Agency may take over the regulation of a site from the Council, once it has been declared as contaminated land. If you would like more information on contaminated land, please contact us.

Environment Agency

The Environment Agency is a central government organisation which is responsible for dealing with a range of environmental issues, and can provide further details about contaminated land. They work closely with local authorities on a number of environmental issues. 

Their responsibilities include:

  • certain aspects of the contaminated land regime
  • waste management licensing
  • authorisation of industrial process
  • radiation
  • pollution of controlled waters (for example: streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, and ground water)
  • flooding and flood defence
  • producing technical guidance

While the Council is still responsible for identifying contaminated land etc, the Environment Agency is responsible for intrusive investigations and ensuring that the land is appropriately cleaned up.

Contaminated land types

There are two main types of contaminated land, 'statutory contaminated land', and 'land affected by contamination'.

Statutory contaminated land

Statutory contaminated land is land that meets the definition of contaminated land set out within Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, namely:

'any land which appears to the local authority in whose area it is situated to be in such a condition, by reason of substances in, on or under the land, that:

  • significant harm is being caused or there is a significant possibility of such harm being caused; 
  • or pollution of controlled waters is being, or is likely to be caused.'

Statutory guidance (Defra circular 01/2006) also clarifies this definition, identifying the types of harm and pollution that will result in land being identified as contaminated land.

Land affected by contamination

'Land affected by contamination' is the planning definition for contaminated land and is set out within material planning guidance (planning policy statement 23, ODPM). According to this guidance, land affected by contamination:

'is intended to cover all cases where the actual or suspected presence of substances in, on or under the land may cause risks to people, property, human activities or the environment, regardless of whether or not the land meets the statutory definition in Part IIA'

This definition of contaminated land applies to planning applications and development. It is more stringent and covers a wider range of harm and pollution than statutory contaminated land.

Other contamination

In certain cases, other contamination may also be present in land which does not fall under the definitions for 'statutory contaminated land' or 'land affected by contamination'. For more details about who to contact about other types of contamination see contaminated land external guidance.

Report contaminated land 

You can report a contaminated land issue using the form below, or by contacting us directly. 

Report contaminated land

Page updated: 14/06/2016 13:08:01