Advice for Builders and Developers

Land Contamination and New Developments

A national target was set by the government for 60% of all new housing to be built on ‘brownfield’ sites, which are sites previously used for industrial or commercial activities; as a result land contamination has become a consideration for some new developments.

Planning applicants, agents, developers and consultants are required by planning policy guidance to consider contaminated land at the beginning of any development proposal. You can view planning policy documents in the Related Content.

We expect potential contaminated land issues to be professionally and fully addressed in accordance with best practice.

The Essex Contaminated Land consortium, which has representatives from all Essex authorities, Essex County council, and the Environment Agency, have produced a clear and informative guide to developers’ about how to deal with land contamination.

A copy of this document called ‘Land Affected by Contamination –Technical Guidance for Applicants and Developers’ Third Edition. Can be downloaded from the Related Content section below, or you can request a hard copy by telephoning our Customer services team on 01702 318111.

It is important that planning applicants follow this advice to ensure that they can comply with any contaminated land conditions that may be attached to their planning consent. In addition there are various documents produced by CIRIA Construction Industry Research Information Association, and CLAIRE Contaminated Land Applications in Real Environments as well as British Standards, and Codes of practice some of the most relevant can be found in the Related Content section.

Planning Services

Our planning department will ensure that if any development is going to take place on a site where contamination may exist, any necessary investigation and or remediation works are carried out before occupation. The Environmental Protection team is consulted by planning officers both before and after the planning application is made, and planning conditions may be imposed to ensure necessary remediation works are done. Information from the governments planning policy related to contamination can be found in the Related Content section.

Building Control

Building control officers inspect many of the building works carried out in the district and have a responsibility for enforcing the Building Regulations.

Part C of the building regulations refers to contamination.

They may require soil surveys, or site assessments to make sure that contamination will not cause a problem, and will also liaise with the Environmental Protection unit, and planning to ensure that any action required is carried out. Information on Part C of the building regulations can be found in the Related Content section.

Responsibility for clearing up contaminated land

Where we have identified a site as being contaminated land there is a formal determination process. We then have to ensure the site is ‘remediated’ (brought to a condition that does not pose a risk of harm).

The enforcing authority (for example the council, or the Environment Agency), identify who the appropriate persons liable for all or part of the remediation are, and there are two main classes

Class A – those who cause or knowingly permit the pollutants to be in, on or under the land.

Class B – the owners or occupiers of the land.

Where no Class A are identified then Class B may become liable and where an appropriate person can no longer be found (the person may have died or company has ceased) the enforcing authority may be required to take on the missing persons share of liability, and undertake the remedial works themselves. Any other appropriate persons for that piece of contaminated land will still be required to pay their share of the costs.