Contaminated land and planning

Land contamination is a material consideration for the purposes of town and country planning.
Planning Policy aims to ensure that developed land is "suitable for use" and does not cause further pollution. This places responsibilities on owners and developers to assess the extent and nature of any potentially harmful substances on their sites.

Where there is reason to suspect that a site may be contaminated then certain information will be required to support planning applications in relation to that site. Persons are advised to contact the Environmental Protection team at the earliest opportunity if they are aware of contamination at any proposed development site.

Investigation and risk assessment will need to be undertaken at potentially contaminated sites, the findings of which should be supplied in support of planning applications. Such work should be completed by suitably qualified contractors or consultants. Should the work indicate that contamination may pose unacceptable risks then remediation and/or mitigation measures will need to be undertaken prior to the commencement of development. Such work is likely to be more difficult and expensive if it is not commenced until development is already underway.

Land contamination reports submitted to the planning department in support of a planning application will be reviewed by the Environmental Protection team to ensure that it is compliant with statutory guidance and that recommendations are suitable. The Environmental Protection team will advise on planning condition requirements and likely requirements for further investigation and remediation.

The following shows an ideal sequence for developers who wish to develop any site which is thought to have potential land contamination issues:

  • Consult us and submit planning application with desk study (contaminated land) report (approval granted subject to conditions).
  • Consult us on requirements for site investigation. If required complete site investigation and submit report that includes a risk assessment and recommendations for further work.
  • Consult us on requirements for remediation. If required complete and submit remedial strategy.
  • Consult the Council on validation/completion proposals. Submit validation report.
  • Land contamination conditions discharged and site considered to be suitable for use.

Further information on our requirements may be found in the our Developers Guide to Contaminated Land.

It is the developer's responsibility to ensure that development is safe and suitable for use. Should this not be achieved then developers could be liable under other legislation should harm or pollution occur on the site in future.

Further information may be found in Planning Policy Statement 23 Annex 2:Development on Land Affected by Contamination