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Land contamination

Land that has been contaminated means land affected by increased levels of hazardous substances such as heavy metals, non-metals (e.g. Lead, Mercury and Arsenic), organic compounds e.g. Petroleum Hydrocarbons and radioactive materials.

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Local Authorities have a statutory duty to deal with contaminated land within their area. The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 also gives powers to Local Authorities to ensure that land that is contaminated is cleaned up so that it is suitable for its proposed use.

Although the Borough is primarily residential in character, historically there have been a range of industrial activities including: chemical manufacture, sewage treatment, gas works and many more.

Contamination may also arise from inappropriate disposal of household materials e.g. cleaning products (e.g. white spirits and bleaches), technical oils, paints, ash and pesticides.

Current central government policies have led to increased pressure to redevelop brownfield sites (sites that have been previously developed). It is important to ensure that elevated levels of contamination identified on these sites are reduced to levels which no longer pose a significant risk to human health or the wider environment.

Impact and remediation

Land contamination can impact on the health of humans as well as animals and cause damage to the wider environment including: watercourses, aquifers (natural underground water stored within rocks) and even buildings.

A site that is affected by contamination may need some form of remediation (clean up) before it can be safely used. Many sites in the Borough have been remediated through the Planning Process as they were redeveloped. We work closely with developers to ensure that appropriate methods and controls are put in place to deal with land contamination.

The Contaminated Land Team ensures that all developments in the Borough where land contamination may be an issue are carried out to the strictest current environmental standards and we work closely with both developers and consultants to make sure that this happens.

The image to the right shows a contaminated site undergoing remediation.

If you have any questions relating to land contamination please contact the contaminated land team.

Updated: 23 August 2022

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