Contaminated Land

What is Contaminated Land? England has a long history of industrial activity which has led to the contamination of land involving a wide range of substances associated with traditional industrial…

What is Contaminated Land?

England has a long history of industrial activity which has led to the contamination of land involving a wide range of substances associated with traditional industrial processes or activities, waste disposal practices and lower environmental standards. There is now an understanding of the consequences of land contamination and recognition of the need to reclaim and reuse previously developed sites.

The Part 2A Regime came into force 1st April 2000 and provides a means of dealing with unacceptable risks posed by land contamination to human health and the environment. The Secretary of State has also issued Statutory Guidance (DEFRA, 2012) for implementing the Contaminated Land regime in England. Authorities should seek to find and deal with land contamination; however, this is one of several ways in which land contamination can be addressed and Part 2A should only be used where no appropriate alternative solution exists.

The legal definition of 'contaminated land' is set out within Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990: (as inserted by section 57 of the Environment Act 1995)

Section 78A(2): “contaminated land” is any 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 –

(a) significant harm is being caused or there is a significant possibility of such harm being caused; or

(b) significant pollution of controlled waters is being caused, or there is a significant possibility of such pollution being caused;

For a site to be identified as 'Contaminated Land' it must have all three elements of a contaminant linkage present. A contaminant, pathway and receptor must be identified, and significant harm or significant possibility of harm must also be shown. On all land, there are background levels of substances present as a result of geology and diffuse human pollution and therefore may be possible for areas of land to have the presence of contamination, but not meet the requirements for the determination as 'Contaminated Land'.

Contaminated Land Strategy

Barrow Borough Council has prepared a strategy with regard to its duties under Part 2A, which requires the Authority to ‘cause its area to be inspected from time to time for the purpose of identifying contaminated land’.

The strategy includes details of the policy of the Authority in respect to contamination, risk assessment, Authority priority actions and timescales and details of review mechanisms. This strategy document sets out a framework for how the Authority will implement its inspection duties under Part 2A. It details inspection arrangements and procedures and explains how these will be carried out and over what timescale. With regard to the assessment of Contaminated Land, prioritisation to be given to the protection of human health.

The Strategy and Hardship Policy is currently under review and the draft consultation link can be found below which ran* from Monday 13th January 2020 until Friday 14th February 2020. *The consultation is now closed.

Land Quality Strategy & Hardship Policy 2020


As well as an ongoing inspection programme the Authority recognises that some sites may be identified which may require urgent action and these sites will be dealt with as they arise. The Authority also recognises that implementation of the strategy will require reviews to ensure that the requirements of the legislation are met.

Contaminated Land Register

The Authority is required to maintain a public register. Only specific information will be entered onto the register which includes:

  • Remediation notices;
  • Charging notices;
  • Appeals against remediation and charging notices;
  • Remediation statements and declarations;
  • Designations of special sites;
  • Notifications of claimed remediation;
  • Convictions for non-compliance with notices;
  • Site specific guidance issued by the Environment Agency

This is not a register of sites determined to have contamination present, sites that potentially have contamination present or sites which have been investigated as part of the Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy. The register serves only as a permanent record of regulatory action undertaken to ensure remediation of any site which has been determined to be contaminated land.

There are currently no sites in this district that have been designated as been contaminated as defined under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Contaminated Land and Development

Previously Developed Land

Land affected by previous development may present a risk to a variety of current and future users and pose limitations for future development. In order for these sites to be evaluated, risk management processes need to be implemented so that land contamination can be dealt with in a way that is consistent with government policies and legislation within the UK.

Sensitive End Uses

Because of the widespread potential occurrence of contamination, the possibility should always be considered, regardless of past land use, when development is proposed involving or introducing a particularly sensitive use such as housing with gardens, schools, nurseries or allotments.

An Essential Guide

If you are developing or planning to develop a 'brownfield' site or the proposed end use is sensitive, please see the following link:

Development of Potentially Contaminated Land and Sensitive end Uses

This document highlights the information required and lists some key publications and things to remember when constructing reports.


Contact Details

For further information on the development of potentially contaminated sites or queries relating to Land Contamination, please contact:

Geoff Dowker
Environmental Protection & Public Health Team Leader
Public Protection Services
Barrow Borough Council