There are many thousands of sites across the UK that have been contaminated by past activities, practices or industries.
Some contamination arises from things that happened centuries ago, like leather tanning and dye works found along rivers, mining or quarrying activities, and even the waste left buried at old blacksmiths shops. Other contamination is found at factories dating back to the industrial revolution and old landfill sites. Some contamination can be very recent, such as an oil leak from a defective storage tank.
Any of these sources of contamination may present a threat to the environment or pose a risk to human health, although fortunately, serious harm from contamination is extremely rare.
It is not always obvious that land is affected as many contaminants cannot be seen or smelled. In order to determine whether contamination is present it is often necessary to investigate the previous use of the land. Soil, groundwater or gas testing may also be required. If testing demonstrates the presence of contamination, a more detailed investigation and risk assessment would be required to determine whether there are any unacceptable risks to human health or the wider environment.
These web pages describe how we are working to deal with these issues in our district.
Dealing with Land Contamination through the Planning Regime
The Government wants local councils to make as much use as possible of "brownfield land". This is land that had previously been developed, but is currently disused, for example old factories or petrol stations, which can now be re-developed. If this type of land is contaminated it must be restored to a state in which it is “suitable for use”. This depends on how the land will be used in future. Land that will have houses built on it will be cleaned to a higher standard than land on which a warehouse is to be built.
Our Development on Potentially Contaminated Land section gives further advice.
Dealing with Land Contamination under the Environmental Protection Act 1990
This legislation places a duty on local councils to proactively find and inspect all potentially contaminated land within their areas, and to secure clean-up if the contamination is deemed to present an unacceptable risk. Details of how we go about this process can be found in our Contaminated Land Strategy.
Also in this Service...
Mid Suffolk District Council, 131 High Street, Needham Market, IPSWICH IP6 8DL
Telephone: 0845 606 6067