Contaminated land

Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 ("Part IIA") was introduced to provide a system for the identification and remediation of land where contamination is causing, or is likely to cause, an unacceptable risk to human health or the wider environment.

Contaminated Land

Under Part IIA, all councils had an additional duty to produce a 'Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy' by July 2001.

The main aim of such strategies is to identify all areas of land that are potentially contaminated, within each local authority boundary. The council has produced a Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy, which is available to download below, explaining how we intend to fulfil our duties under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to identify, inspect and remediate contaminated land.

This strategy was revised in early 2007, and an updated version can be downloaded from the related documents section. The strategy is currently being reviewed following the publication of revised Contaminated Land Statutory Guidance (April 2012) published by Defra.

Once land is determined as contaminated, its details are entered into a Contaminated Land Public Register. Currently no sites have been determined as contaminated within Derbyshire Dales, and accordingly there are no entries on the Public Register.

Officers also advise Planning colleagues and developers to ensure that new developments, or material changes of use, are undertaken in such a way to ensure that the land is suitable for its proposed use and poses no risk to human health or the wider environment.

The statutory definition of contaminated land

Under Part IIA the statutory definition of contaminated land is:

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:

  • significant harm is being caused or there is a significant possibility of such harm being caused; or
  • pollution of controlled waters is being, or is likely to be, caused.

For harm to be caused, or there to be a possibility of harm being caused, there are three key factors that must be present:

  • a contaminant must be present in the soil at a concentration that could cause harm to health (e.g. arsenic),
  • a receptor that could be affected by the contamination (e.g. adults or children),
  • a pathway capable of exposing the receptor to the contaminants in the soil (e.g. dust or soil ingestion, growing of vegetables).

When all three factors are present, it is considered that there is a significant pollutant linkage and it is probable that the land will be classed as contaminated land.

Sources of land contamination

Land contamination can arise from naturally occurring contaminants, from our industrial legacy or from pollution incidents. Activities such as lead smelting, lime burning, producing town gas, landfill sites, petrol stations, vehicle repair garages, and chemical and engineering works all have the potential to contaminate the land on, or around, which they are situated. Accidents such as chemical leaks or domestic oil tank leaks also have the potential to contaminate land. Some contaminants will degrade overtime, but many will remain in the soil and may pose a risk to human health.

Identifying contaminated land

Our inspection strategy (discussed above) details how the District Council will identify historic sites that may have resulted in land contamination, which may require investigating. A site investigation, whether as part of a site investigation through the Contaminated Land Regime or through a planning condition, can involve soil sampling, groundwater sampling and the assessment of ground gas. The results of these are used with a conceptual site model to identify the risks posed to human health and the wider environment.