Contaminated land

Contaminated Land Management

Contamination usually comes to light when industrial sites are being redeveloped and in such cases we assess the suitability of sites through the Development Management planning process.

However, land contamination may also be already present on developed sites and local authorities now have a duty to identify any potentially contaminated land and seek appropriate remediation in instances where it is deemed to pose unacceptable risks to human health or the environment.

It is therefore important that you know if the site you currently occupy, or are planning to sell or purchase is suitable for its current or proposed use. Please note that pre-application planning advice may involve a fee, and that privately-appointed qualified persons are expected to investigate and report on land which you own or propose to develop.

Is all past industrial land contaminated?

No. It is important to note that past industrial land use does not always indicate contamination is present or that it poses any risks. If the industrial pollution occurred a long time ago, there is a possibility that any contaminants present will have changed to such a degree that they may no longer be considered to be harmful.

Furthermore, many houses are built with the industrial past of the site in mind and appropriate remedial works may have been undertaken as part of this, or there is no possible linkage between any contamination and a receptor in any case.

Do I need to worry about contaminated land?

Most people do not need to be worried about contaminated land, as in most cases the risk of living on or near land affected by contamination is very low.

It is only in isolated cases that land contamination presents a significant possibility of significant harm to groundwater, ecosystems and people who occupy the land. In such cases, long-term health effects can emerge from regular or prolonged contact with the source of contamination, for example, via dust or vapours produced the land.

The government guidance policies we use, including guidelines of amounts of substances in land that may be considered unacceptable, is conservative and protective of young children who may be directly exposed to soils.

Specific harm to water environments such as aquifers or rivers is regulated by the Environment Agency, and they may seek the improvement of water quality towards drinking standards.

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