Contaminated land 

Contaminated land is defined legally as land where substances - such as oils and tars, gases, asbestos, chemical substances and heavy metals - could cause: 

  • significant harm to people or protected species
  • significant pollution of surface waters or groundwater

This contamination is usually found on old industrial sites such as former factories, mines, steelworks, refineries and landfills.

What we do

Our Contaminated Land Strategy outlines how we deal with contaminated land in the borough. It details how we identify and prioritise sites for further investigation, and includes information on clean up (also known as remediation), liability and enforcement:

 Contaminated Land Strategy (PDF 305 KB)

We also keep a Contaminated Land Register, although it currently has no entries. 

Land contamination and new development

If you are a landowner of developer it is your responsibility to identify land affected by contamination and ensure remediation is carried out.

Where planning permission is sought for development, the possibility of contamination should be assumed in relation to all land subject to, or adjacent to, previous industrial use and also where uses are being considered that are particularly sensitive to contamination. These include:

  • housing
  • schools
  • hospitals
  • children's play areas

Developers will normally be required to perform a contamination assessment for such sites, as part of conditions of planning permission.

Technical advice

In association with the Environment Agency, and other local authorities in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, we have jointly published technical advice for applicants, developers, land owners and consultants involved in the redevelopment of land that has the potential to be affected by contamination or where a sensitive end use is proposed. You can download a copy of our guidance document below: 

 Development on potentially contaminated land (PDF 241KB)

Please note: this guidance is subject to revision from time to time in line with government requirements, legislative changes and best practice guidance.

Guidance notes

We have produced a series of guidance notes to assist developers and consultants in the verification of remedial works. The guidance notes can be viewed below: 

Do I need a formal contamination assessment?

We are aware of the potential cost implications of a formal land contamination assessment and investigation and have prepared a questionnaire for planning applicants of small developments with a proposed sensitive end use on existing residential or greenfield sites. We will use this information to assess whether a more formal assessment of land contamination is necessary. Download our  sensitive end use land contamination questionnaire (PDF 14 KB).

Environmental information requests

We can provide environmental information on sites in the borough, including details of site investigations and remedial works, location of former landfill sites, details of authorised industrial processes, pollution incident records and details of private water supplies.

We currently charge £82, plus VAT, per hour to provide written responses to environmental information requests. For more information, please use the contact details below.

Contact us

Telephone: 01442 228455