Thousands of sites may have been contaminated by previous industrial use, often associated with traditional processes which are no longer used.
These sites may present a hazard to human health or the environment, but there is a growing need to reclaim and redevelop.
What is land contamination?
The term 'land contamination' covers a wide range of situations where land is contaminated in some way. In a small number of these situations where certain criteria are met, a site might be determined 'contaminated land' which has a specific legal definition set out in Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act.
All over the UK, there are thousands of sites that have been contaminated by previous use. Often this is associated with industrial processes or activities that have now ceased, but where waste products or remaining residues present a hazard to the general environment.
There is increasing pressure to reuse land which is affected by contamination rather than develop greenfield sites such as parks or woodland.
What are the Council doing about land contamination?
Telford & Wrekin Council's Environmental Health team have recently completed a revision of the Council's Contaminated Land Strategy. This document sets out how the Council intends to address the legacy of land contamination within the borough.
Please note: The Contaminated Land Strategy is currently under review and therefore has been removed from the website. Please check back soon to view the document.
This revised document reflects the numerous changes in legislation, statutory and non-statutory guidance, and case law since the contaminated land regime was inserted into UK legislation in 2000.
It is widely acknowledged that remediation via the planning regime is the Governments' preferred option, allowing the redeveloper to pay for the cost of such, and many sites remediation's are scrutinised by the Environmental Health Department as part of the planning regime every year.
Other sites requiring further investigation will be dealt with proactively in a risk based manner. At the time of writing, 12 of some 1200 sites of potential concern have been inspected via part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Responsibility for cleaning up the land
Appropriate persons, identified by us, are liable for all or part of the remediation of the land. There are two classes of appropriate persons:
- class A-appropriate persons are those who cause or knowingly permit the pollutants to be in, on or under the land
- class B-appropriate persons are the owners or occupiers of the land.
Where no class A-appropriate persons can be identified, then the class B-appropriate persons may become liable.
Where an appropriate person can no longer be found (the person may have died, or their company gone into liquidation) the enforcing authority may be required to take on the missing person's share of liability and undertake the remedial works themselves. Any other appropriate persons for that piece of contaminated land will still be required to pay their share of the remediation costs.
Does this apply to me?
The contaminated land regime has implications for those who cause or knowingly permit land to be contaminated, or who own or occupy land that is contaminated. This has greater relevance for those in business who may operate a process that could cause contamination.
For home owners who may find themselves in the unlikely situation of being responsible, we have to be fair as to how remediation costs are apportioned. We're governed by strict guidelines to that effect.
If you're about to buy a property but you're concerned that there may be a risk of contamination, then we may be able to search our records for further information.
Completed investigations of contaminated land
There has been an investigation into the former Stoneyhill landfill site.
Download the Stoneyhill investigation report.