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Contaminated land

Under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Local Authorities in England are given responsibilities for regulating contaminated land.

Part IIA came into force in April 2000. There are two main parts to the local authority's duties under Part IIA an inspection function and an enforcement function. It is a statutory requirement that each Local Authority publish a strategypdf icon Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy [371kb] pdf icon Boston Borough Council 2014 [336kb]for carrying out inspection of its area to identify land that may be contaminated. The strategy deals principally with the inspection function, showing how we will inspect its area for contaminated land, identify contaminated land and manage the information that it collects in the process. The purpose of the new contaminated land legislation is to ensure that historically contaminated land is cleaned up in such a way that it is safe, suitable for a beneficial use, and does not pose a risk to health or the environment.

Prevention of new contamination is dealt with by different legislation, for example the Pollution Prevention and Control regime and the Waste Management Licensing system.

What is contaminated land?

In general terms, contaminated land usually means land where industrial or other human activities have resulted in the presence of substances in the ground with potential to cause harm to human health, structures, or the environment. However, in English law the term "contaminated land" means something more specific than this. The duties and powers of Local Authorities extend only to land that falls within the statutory definition of contaminated land enforcement action cannot be taken where land is not legally "contaminated land". The definition of contaminated land from the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Part IIA, Section 78A (2) is: "any land which appears to the local authority in whose area it is situated to be in such a condition, by reason of substances in, on or under the land, that (a) significant harm is being caused or there is a significant possibility of such harm being caused; or(b) pollution of controlled waters is being, or is likely to be, caused."

The meanings of the terms within the definitions are important. The statutory guidance gives quite detailed explanations of what each term in the definition means.

Contaminated land and planning

The issue of contaminated land is a major issue for developers, particularly, when sites with former industrial activities are being redeveloped. For this reason we have produced a Guidance Booklet in conjunction with the Yorkshire & Humberside Pollution Advisory Council (YAHPAC) entitled 'Development on Land Affected by Contamination'. pdf icon YAHPAC Guidance [2Mb]

Further information on the contaminated land regime can be found on DEFRA's websiteDEFRA contaminated land

Related documents

Size Name
[2Mb] YAHPAC Guidance Technical guidance on development of contaminated land
[371kb] Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy Contaminated land inspection strategy
[336kb] Boston Borough Council 2014 Contaminated Land Strategy Update & Review 2014
[488kb] DEFRA CL guidance 2012 DEFRA Contaminated Land Guidance 2012
[192kb] Radioactive Contaminated Land Guidance B20b Guidance to LA's on visual inspection and limited surveys
[393kb] Radioactive Contaminated Land Guidance B20a Guidance to LA's on collation and assessment of documentary information

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