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Contaminated Land questions

These FAQs aim to answer any queries residents, land owners or developers may have about land contamination issues and how it may affect them.

What causes contamination in the ground and why should we clean it up?

Chemical contamination of land (soil and water) can arise as a result of past poorly regulated industrial and waste disposal activities carried out with little regard for the environment. Some common chemical contaminants are fuels, heavy metals, oils and solvents. Where contamination is found to be significant, it needs to be cleaned up to minimise the harm it could cause to people and/or the environment.

What work are we doing under Part IIA, Environmental Protection Act 1990?

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 introduced a legal definition of 'Contaminated Land' for the first time (Part IIA). This legislation requires the council to proactively identify contaminated sites that are not suitable for their current use due to risks to human health or the pollution of controlled waters. We have a current inspection strategy for potentially contaminated sites on this website. The Environmental Protection Unit (EPU) carries out this statutory duty. If necessary, the EPU have enforcement powers to get these sites cleaned up if formally identified as 'Contaminated Land' under Part IIA. This runs along side our Planning and Building Control consultation duties, which we continue to undertake to ensure redevelopment of a site ensures the site is suitable for a new use and does not lead to the site being formally identified as 'Contaminated Land'.

Does Part IIA contaminated land legislation apply to me?

The contaminated land regime has implications for those who have caused or knowingly permitted land to be contaminated or who own, occupy or intend to purchase or sell land that is contaminated. 

How could 'contaminated land' affect me?

You may be affected by Part IIA inspections if you own land, occupy land, are a tenant of land or operate a process on land that the council has reasons to believe may be contaminated.

I think my site may be contaminated, what can I do?

You should contact the Environmental Protection Unit, who will consider if the land is causing an immediate risk to receptors and if the problem can be dealt with under another regime other than Part IIA. Developers may wish to get specialist advice on the investigation and clean up of the land from private consultants and carry out voluntary remediation of the site under the planning regime.

How long does it take under Part IIA to determine if land is contaminated and carry out any necessary remedial works?

It is difficult to predict how long it will take to determine a site and to carry out any remedial works as this is likely to vary from site to site. Based on investigations throughout the country, time scales could vary from approximately one to five years with some sites being investigated over longer periods before a decision is reached on whether or not it requires remediation (clean up).

Who pays for the clean up of 'contaminated land'?

In the case where remedial works (clean up) are needed to prevent harm due to unacceptable risks, the cost usually falls to the original polluter of the land where they can be found, or if not the current owner or occupier of the land.

I have a contaminated land condition on my planning approval for my property

If you have made a planning application relating to a development that is on or close to an industrial area or former landfill site, you may have a contaminated land condition attached to your planning permission. A condition is attached in circumstances where we feel that special precautions and contamination remediation works are likely to be required to ensure the development can be implemented with adequate regard for environmental and public safety.

Who is responsible if things go wrong due to contamination on developed sites?

Under the Planning regime, it is the responsibility of the developer to ensure that a development is safe and 'suitable for use' for the purpose for which it is intended such as residential or industrial. The council does not accept liability.

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 01 Sep 2017 at 11:13