Contaminated land

What is contaminated land?

Section 78A(2) defines “contaminated land” for the purpose of Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as:

  • “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".

Our responsibilities

Under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act, local authorities have a duty to:

  • publish a contaminated land strategy
  • carry out inspections of land that may be contaminated
  • identify those responsible for cleaning up the site
  • formally declare land as contaminated
  • keep a public registry of contaminated land sites.

Check our register of contaminated sites

Developer responsibilities

The NPPF sets out the national planning policies for England and how they are to be applied.

Under the planning regime it is the responsibility of the developer/purchaser of the land to identify any potentially harmful substances and materials present at the site before applying for planning permission.

If this is not done planning permission may still be granted but certain conditions will be attached to the application.

Although the responsibility of investigating and cleaning up the site lies with the developer, the council will work with the developer to ensure that the contamination is removed and the site made safe for the new development.

Download the Information for Developers document.

For more information please refer to our contaminated land strategy 2017.

Contaminated land search

We hold significant information on land that could be contaminated from previous or current use and sites remediated under the planning regime.

We can carry out a contaminated land search on request from members of the public/representatives or environmental consultancies.

The search contains the following:

  • 250m GIS buffer search
  • risk score
  • planning polygons/ previous planning applications
  • petrol stations
  • permitted installations
  • landfill sites – EA
  • GI historic maps (1869-1989)

Search costs

Our charges are:

  • a specific site (e.g. residential property), the fee is £234 (VAT inclusive)

  • a specific site (e.g. a proposed site for development/commercial), including a 'buffer zone' of 250 metres around the site, the fee is £278.40 (VAT inclusive)

  • a large site or multiple areas within a large site (e.g. a proposed site for development), including a 'buffer zone' of 250 meters, a special fee of £619.20 is applicable (VAT inclusive).

We aim to respond to your enquiry within 10 working days. We search our records for information about contamination of the site and for past uses that may have involved contaminative processes.

We will try to respond to all of your questions apart from where you ask about complaints. We cannot reveal details of complaints unless they have been substantiated by the service of a legal notice.

For information about this please call 020 7364 5000 where you will be asked to provide your contact details and the location of the site/address about which you are enquiring.