Pollution control - contaminated land


Contaminated Land - Information for the Public

Contaminated Land - Information for Developers

Contaminated Land - Information for Contaminated Land Consultants


Contaminated Land - Information for the Public

What is contaminated land?

Land that contains substances in, on, or under it which are, or can be, harmful to humans.  Due to the long history of industry, numerous sites throughout the UK have been contaminated by human activities.  Examples include mining, chemical processing and waste disposal sites.

Any industrial or commercial activity has the potential to contaminate land to some extent.  However, just because contamination is present on land, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is a problem.

Our role is to:

  • inspect all the land in the city to identify any that is contaminated and take appropriate action to ensure risks or pollution are controlled.
  • provide guidance to the planning department about development on previously used (brownfield) land and liaise with developers
  • provide environmental information to the public such as the location of landfill sites, certain industrial processes and waste management sites
  • maintain a public register of contaminated land.

What law covers contaminated land?

In April 2000, Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990 came into force introducing new legislation for the regulation of contaminated land in England. This places duties on Local Authorities to identify potentially contaminated sites in their area and make sure they are cleaned up (remediated).

To enforce the legislation we have to do the following:

  • publish a Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy  which says how we find  contaminated land within the city
  • carry out inspections of the land that may be contaminated
  • find out who is responsible for causing the contamination
  • formally designate land that is found to be contaminated
  • agree on the required action to clean up (remediate) the land
  • keep a Public Register of designated contaminated sites in Derby, how the land was cleaned up and what, if any, legal action was taken.

How can I find out if my house been built on contaminated land?

Requirements for cleaning up contaminated land are now well established.  In the past, however, cleaning up contaminated land when houses were built was not common practice.  As a result, contamination may have stayed in the ground which is why there are many sites in Derby that could be affected.

If your house is relatively new, the planning process should have ensured that the risk of contamination was assessed and dealt with by the developer who built the houses. 

You can contact us to find out if a particular address is located on land that is either known or suspected to be contaminated.

Our Planning Pages have details of all recent planning applications submitted within Derby.

How can I find out if the property I am buying is on contaminated land?

During the sale your solicitor may make enquiries about contaminated land.  These are usually carried out by private organisations who can confirm whether the land has a risk of being significantly contaminated or not, often issuing a certificate.

Your solicitor may also contact our Contaminated Land Officer and request information about the historical uses of the land and whether it has been identified as potentially contaminated.

Anyone can contact us to find out if a particular address they are concerned about is located on land that has the potential to be contaminated.


Contaminated Land - Information for Developers

Will contaminated land planning conditions be placed on the land I have bought?

We will act in accordance with planning guidance and may attach a planning condition to your site if it is known, or suspected, to have had a potentially contaminative history.

What can I do if contaminated land conditions have been attached to my outline planning permission?

You should appoint a suitably qualified consultant to undertake the required site investigation and interpretation of results to satisfy the conditions placed on the grant of outline planning permission.  For more details refer to A Guide to Submitting Applications for Land that maybe Contaminated 

Where can I find a consultant to undertake the work?

Environmental consultants can be found in the phone book or on the internet. We are unable to recommend any, although you can enquire if a consultant you are thinking of employing has previously submitted reports to us. You should also make them aware of the specific wording of any planning condition.

There is no certainty that a hired consultant will carry out the desktop study or site investigation to the required standard.  We recommend getting a number of quotes and checking whether the consultant has done similar work before.


Contaminated Land - Information for Contaminated Land Consultants

What assessment criteria should I use?

All reports submitted in connection with a planning application must refer to the latest guidance from the Environment Agency and the most up to date soil guideline values. Reports will be rejected if they refer to withdrawn guideline values.

Reports can use alternative assessment criteria provided they have used robust scientific data and have been derived using a UK relevant risk assessment model such as CLEA v1.06.

What should soil being imported to site be tested for?

Any soil imported onto the development site from an outside source must be suitable for use.  Also, soil from elsewhere on the development site which is proposed for use as part of a cover system or landscaping must be suitable for use and will be subject to the same requirements as imported material.

Where it is proposed to import soil onto site in connection with the development, this should be tested at source to establish whether it is suitable as a clean cover.  It may also be possible to test the material once it has arrived at site without testing at source. However, this is not advised and it is recommended you discuss this with the Contaminated Land Officer.   Any material brought to site without being tested at source will be done so at the risk of the developer.  If the material fails the testing criteria and proved not to be suitable for use on site, it will need to be removed.   

The soil being tested for contamination should be analysed in a laboratory that is accredited under the MCERTS Chemical Testing of Soil Scheme, for all chemical parameters requested, and the results submitted to our Contaminated Land Officer for consideration.

As a minimum, the following determinants and parameters should be tested:

  • arsenic, boron, cadmium, chromium III, chromium Hex VI, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium, zinc, cyanide, phenol, sulphate, sulphide, pH, speciated Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and carbon-banded Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPHs).

Vendor certificates of the physical and nutrient properties of the matrix are not accepted in place of actual in situ sampling of the soil for the appropriate physico-chemical properties.

A Guide to Submitting Applications for Land that maybe Contaminated  

How many samples should be taken when sampling material to be imported to site?

We will accept the sampling at a ratio of one sample for every 100 m3 (approximately 150 tons) of material imported from a ’greenfield’ source or one sample for every 50 m3 for material from an unknown or potentially contaminated source.   A minimum of three samples must be tested.

An alternative sampling frequency will be considered if supported by appropriate justification, conceptual site model or a risk assessment.

For further information refer to A Guide to the Content and Submission of a Validation or Verification Report  

Useful forms

Contact details

Post address:
Environment and Regulatory Services
The Council House
Corporation Street
Phone: 01332 642020
Minicom: 01332 640666
Environment and Regulatory Services
The Council House
Corporation Street