About contaminated land
Sometimes, land is contaminated by industrial activities. Contaminants like metals, fuels, solvents and pesticides may build up at industrial, mining and waste disposal sites. In the past, landfill sites did not take enough care over the escape of waste gases. If this issue is not dealt with, there may be a serious threat to health or the environment, including water pollution. We look at contamination risk differently depending on whether a site is going to be redeveloped or not. We use the planning process for sites that will be redeveloped. The Environmental Protection Act lets us investigate and assess any other sites.
Sometimes home owners, prospective buyers and solicitors discover potentially contaminated land when selling or buying a property. Developers may also encounter planning conditions relating to potential contamination.
The law and the council's duty
Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 lets us identify, inspect and deal with contaminated land, where the contamination is causing an unacceptable risk to human health or the wider environment. We consider these risks in the context of the land's current use. The act orders local councils to adopt and publish a strategy for inspecting contaminated land, in accordance with statutory guidance.