Contaminated land

The current UK regime for dealing with land contamination identifies the local authority planning process as the primary means by which land identified for development may be required to be screened for the possibility of land contamination being present. Where land put forward for development has a contaminative history the planning process secures its investigation and remediation so that it is suitable for its intended use. The National Planning Policy Framework 2012 (NPPF) identifies the need for remediating and mitigating despoiled, degraded, derelict, contaminated and unstable land, where appropriate.

The local authority also has a secondary role in respect of land contamination through Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 which places an obligation on all Local Authorities to inspect their district to identify areas of potentially contaminated land. Once identified and prioritised, this land must then be investigated and remediated (cleaned up/ made safe) if necessary. The legislation applies the principle of the "polluter pays" and therefore as part of the research of a site, past owners and occupiers have to be identified.

Not all land that appears to be contaminated necessarily is, and not all land that appears free from contamination necessarily is either.