Local authorities are required to make inspections from time to time to identify contaminated land.
What is contaminated land?
Contaminated land is defined as land where:
- significant harm is being caused or there's a significant possibility of such harm being caused , to humans, animals, ecological systems, plants or property, or
- pollution of controlled waters is being, or is likely to be, caused.
Sites identified as contaminated
When a site is identified as being contaminated, steps are taken to have the site 'remediated', or brought to a condition that does not pose a risk of harm.
Responsibility for cleaning up the land
South Staffordshire Council will identify the appropriate person(s), who are liable for the remediation of the land. They could either be a:
- class A-appropriate persons are those who cause or knowingly permit the pollutants to be in, on or under the land
- class B-appropriate persons are the owners or occupiers of the land
Where an appropriate person can no longer be found (the person may have died, or their company gone into liquidation) we may be required to take on the missing person's share of liability and undertake the remedial works ourselves. Any other appropriate persons for that piece of contaminated land will still be required to pay their share of the remediation costs.
When we have determined who's responsible, we'll make requirements for the site to be remediated. We'll encourage an informal solution in the first instance. If this can't be reached we have the enforcement powers to bring about a resolution. Whichever way is chosen the details referring to this action will be entered onto a public register.
Currently South Staffordshire has no entries on the public register.
Does this apply to me?
The contaminated land regime has implications for those who cause or knowingly permit land to be contaminated, or who own or occupy land that is contaminated. This has greater relevance for those in business who may operate a process that could cause contamination. For more information on this take a look at the NetRegs environmental guidance.
For home owners who may find themselves in the unlikely situation of being responsible, we have to be fair as to how remediation costs are apportioned. We're governed by strict guidelines to that effect.
Requests for Information (house purchases)
Many house buyers are now finding that, during the conveyancing procedure, an environmental search report identifies potentially contaminated land, near their prospective home. The Environmental Protection Section can be contacted to check their files for additional information in these circumstances. There is a charge for this service (currently £72 non VAT-able).