Contaminated land 

Land is defined as ‘contaminated land’ where substances are causing or could cause:

  • significant harm to people, property or protected species
  • significant pollution of surface waters (for example lakes and rivers) or groundwater

Examples of contaminating substances include; oils, landfill gases, asbestos and toxic metals. These contaminants may have been released as a result of the former land use activities, such as; former factories, mines, steelworks, refineries and landfills.

Land contamination and new development

Our Environmental and Community Protection (ECP) team provides guidance to our Planning department in relation to the development of brownfield land or land affected by contamination.

It is the responsibility of the developer and/or landowner to identify land affected by contamination and ensure remediation is carried out in order for safe development. We ensure that the investigation and remediation carried out is suitable and sufficient.

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 uses; and
  • where land uses are being considered that are particularly sensitive to contamination, including housing, schools, hospitals, children’s play areas.

Developers should expect to provide a contamination assessment in support of a planning application, or as a condition of a 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: 

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

Small development self-assessment questionnaire

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 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 13KB).

Contaminated land and environmental information enquiries

We can provide environmental information on sites in the borough, including its land-use history and 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, to anyone with a specific interest in the sites, such as house buyers, vendors or solicitors. 

We currently charge £120 (VAT exempt) to provide written responses to environmental information requests and you will need to provide the:

  • Address of the property, or land, with a postcode and if possible a plan confirming its location
  • The nature of your interest in the land
  • Whether or not there are specific issues that have prompted the enquiry or another indication of the type of information that is required.

To request and pay, please call the ECP team on 01442 228455.

These enquiries are different from the standard enquiries that can be made by undertaking a Local Land Charges search, which are restricted to three very specific questions relating to the Contaminated Land Register (see below).

Contaminated Land Strategy

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 it includes information on remediation, those responsible for remediation and how we enforce the legislation.

Contaminated Land Register

We are required to keep a Contaminated Land Register, although we have not determined any sites in the borough and the register currently has no entries.

Contact us

Telephone: 01442 228455