Contaminated land

How we regulate contaminated land

Under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, we have a duty to inspect land within our districts, to identify contaminated sites.

We mainly regulate any contaminated land, although the Environment Agency deal with some 'Special Sites' (typically sites where there are significant water pollution issues).

We have a duty to make sure that people, property and the environment are not harmed by contaminants in the ground, and that any existing damage is remediated (cleaned up).

There are legal rules we must follow, to make sure that those who are responsible for causing contamination, take steps to clean it up.

Our Contaminated Land Strategy, which was adopted in 2009, details how we inspect our land, and take action - where appropriate - to prevent harm to human health or the wider environment.

Read our Contaminated Land Strategy

The contaminated land public register

We have to publish and maintain a public register, which contains information about any sites that we have formally decided is contaminated land as per the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

The register includes details of any remediation notices that have been served, and certain other documents which relate to the site. General information about the condition of the land is also included.

Currently, Babergh's public register contains no entries.

Contaminated land and the planning system

The planning process is in place to make sure that the land will be suitable for its proposed new use.

To do this, we need applicants to demonstrate the suitability of a development site for its intended use. The level of detail that you will need to include depends on previous uses of the site, and the intended future use.

The information on this webpage gives an overview of our expectations in certain, typical scenarios.

Developments on a site with a known industrial history

At development sites where there is only a suspicion that a site may be contaminated - or where evidence suggests that only slight contamination is likely - you must submit a Phase I Investigation, Walkover and Preliminary Risk Assessment along with your planning application.

This assessment will provide a detailed overview of the previous uses of a site. If necessary, a planning condition may be imposed to ensure that the site is fully investigated and made suitable for use.

Our advice note will help you source the relevant reports that you will need to submit:

Proposals for one to two dwellings on greenfield land

For sites with a proposal for 1-2 dwellings on Greenfield or garden infill, the Council requires a commercially-available environmental search and completed Land Contamination Questionnaire to be submitted with the application.

Download Land Contamination Questionnaire

The following note gives guidance for sensitive end uses:

Advice Note 1 – Guidance Note for developments on land which is potentially contaminated or where the proposed end use is sensitive

Proposals for more than 2 dwellings

For sites with a proposal for more than 2 dwellings, the Council requires a detailed ‘Phase I Investigation, Walkover and Preliminary Risk Assessment’ to be submitted with the application.

This provides a detailed overview of the previous uses of a site and if necessary a planning condition may be imposed to ensure that the site is fully investigated and made suitable for use.

The following advice note will assist you in obtaining the relevant reports to submit with your planning application:

Advice Note 2 – Technical guidance for investigating, assessing and remediating land contamination

Failure to submit the correct level of information may result in the rejection of your application at validation stage or a recommendation of refusal during public consultation.

Requests for information

Find out whether your property is affected by contamination

If you are buying or selling a property you should consider the possibility that the land may have been contaminated by a previous use of the site. Solicitors will usually carry out an environmental search to find out if there are potential contamination issues at a particular property. This was rarely done a few years ago, but is common practice now. A number of private companies provide this service for a fee, usually about £180-£200.

Information we can provide

We may hold information on potential land contamination which is sometimes more detailed than that provided by search companies. This information includes details of historic land uses, of closed landfill sites and in some cases, of ground investigations (i.e. soil testing) that have been carried out on a site or nearby land.

If a site has previously been used for a trade or industry it may require detailed inspection by us as part of our duties under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and we will inform you of this fact. 

If we have information which confirms that a property is not contaminated then we will tell you. However, if we do not hold such information, or we have not yet inspected a potentially contaminated site, then we will not be able to do this. Until this stage is reached we will only able to provide factual information about a site.

Make a Freedom of Information request

Make a Freedom of Information request if you would like to know whether we hold any relevant information.

Your request should detail the specific questions that you have about the property, together with a map identifying the location. Failure to submit both parts of the query will result in delays in dealing with your response. Providing a corresponding email address will also speed up our response time.