Contaminated Land

In England, contaminated land has the following legal definition:

'Any land which appears 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; (to human health, the built or the natural environment)
or
b) Significant pollution of controlled waters is being caused, or there is a significant possibility of significant pollution being caused.'

The Council:

1.    Provides guidance to the Planning Control Service in relation to the development of brownfield land or land affected by contamination through the planning process.

2.    Provides information on land potentially affected by contamination within Broxbourne in response to property based contaminated land enquiries.

3.    Implements the Council’s Contaminated Land Strategy in line with its statutory duties under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (Part 2A), local authorities have a duty to investigate areas that are potentially contaminated. Local authorities are the primary enforcing agency of Part 2A but work closely with the Environment Agency in fulfilling this role. This is particularly in cases where controlled waters, such as rivers or aquifers, may be at risk from contamination.

Under Part 2A the principle duties of Broxbourne Council are:

·         To maintain a public register (the Contaminated Land Register) containing prescribed particulars of Remediation Notices served by the council, appeals against any such Remediation Notices and Remediation Statements and Remediation Declarations.

·         To inspect the District in a rational, ordered and efficient manner; in order to identify contaminated land.

·         To determine if any inspected areas are significantly contaminated according to the detailed specifications within Part 2A and its associated legislation and guidance.

·         To find the person(s) responsible for the contaminated land.

·         To try to get the person(s) responsible to voluntarily remediate the contaminated land so that it is safe and fit for its current use.

·         Where voluntary remediation cannot be agreed, to take legal action to force the person(s) responsible to remediate the contaminated land.

In line with statutory guidance from the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Broxbourne Council has published a Contaminated Land Strategy (below) explaining how it is dealing with potentially contaminated land.

Property Based Contaminated Land Enquiries

The Environmental Protection Team can provide, to persons with a specific interest in a property or parcel of land, such as house purchasers, vendors or solicitors, factual information on its use history and whether it is affected by contamination.

This information is drawn from a number of sources within the Team’s records.

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.

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 type of information that is required.

The provision of information about land affected by contamination is controlled by the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR 2004), as specified within the Freedom Of Information Act 2000.

In line with the provisions of the EIR 2004, Broxbourne charges for providing such information. This charge ( see fees and charges) is reviewed annually. Payment should be made by cheque, payable to Broxbourne Council and sent to the council offices along with your request. Enquiries will be routinely answered within 10 working days, subject to the complexity of the enquiry. Telephone payments can be made by calling 01992 785511( there is a 2% credit card charge).

In the event that any information request is considered atypical, the person making the enquiry will be informed of this fact and appropriate arrangements will be made to progress the enquiry through the Freedom Of Information system.

Related pages

·         Contaminated Land Strategy

Development of Brownfield Sites and Sites with Sensitive End Uses

The Environmental Protection Team is a statutory consultee to the Broxbourne Planning Control Service. The team is routinely consulted on the following:

·         proposed developments at sites with a land use history that may have resulted in ground contamination

·         proposed developments with an intended end use that is considered to be particularly sensitive to contamination, for example housing, schools, hospitals and children's play areas.

In both of the above circumstances, the team provides advice to Planning Control about:

·         whether sufficient information has been provided with the application to enable the applicant to assess the risk posed to the proposed development by contamination.

·         whether that information indicates that the development is possible in terms of the presence, or likely presence, of contamination.

·         where the information provided is sufficient and indicates that the proposed development is feasible; then the team may recommend a planning condition to be placed on any permission that may be granted for the proposed development. These conditions will be recommended to ensure that any contamination issues identified by the initially submitted information are appropriately dealt with during the development.

·         where there is no information provided or where that information is considered to be insufficient then the team can recommend refusal of the planning application with an objection on the grounds that it is not possible to demonstrate that the risk of pollution to human health and the environment will be acceptable.

In association with the Environment Agency and the other local authorities in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, the Council has jointly published the below advice note. It summarises responsibilities, contact details and the phased approach to the assessment of the environmental risk when developing on land that may be affected by contamination, or developing for end uses sensitive to contamination.

The advice note is routinely referenced with notification of any planning decisions by the Planning Officers. However it is recommended that this advice note is considered prior to submitting a planning application as Broxbourne Council is committed to encouraging the developer to provide as much information about the possible presence of contamination before a formal application is submitted. The reasons for this are:

1.    Paragraph 120 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) makes it clear that the responsibility for providing information on whether a site is contaminated rests with the developer and that it is the responsibility of the developer to ensure that the development is safe and suitable for its intended use.

2.    It can enable any problems to be identified early in the process, which should reduce the likelihood of unexpected problems and delays at later stages of a development.

The Council is mindful of the potential cost implications of a formal land contamination assessment and investigation. Therefore, the Council has prepared a questionnaire to be completed by planning applicants for small (1 or 2 house) housing developments on existing residential or green-field sites. The information contained in completed questionnaires is then used to determine whether a more formal assessment of land contamination is necessary.

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