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Contaminated land

Environmental Protection Act 1990

Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 places an obligation on local authorities to, from time to time, inspect the land in their areas to identify and where necessary secure the remediation of contaminated land.

'Contaminated land' is defined in the contaminated land statutory guidance as:

"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".

The overarching objectives of the government's policy on contaminated land and the Part 2A regime are:

(a) To identify and remove unacceptable risks to human health and the environment. 

(b) To seek to ensure that contaminated land is made suitable for its current use.

(c) To ensure that the burdens faced by individuals, companies and society as a whole are proportionate, manageable and compatible with the principles of sustainable development.

St Helens Borough Council has identified potentially contaminated land throughout the borough with reference to historical OS mapping. This potentially contaminated land ranges from historically infilled former ponds and drainage ditches (low potential risk) to extensive former chemical works (high potential risk).

Our intended approach to the investigation and assessment of this land is detailed within our  St Helens Council Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy (PDF) [1019KB] (opens new window) . In accordance with our inspection strategy and the requirements of the statutory guidance, our inspections are undertaken in a prioritised manner, with those sites considered to pose a higher potential risk investigated first.

Where a site is considered to meet the statutory definition of contaminated land, it must be determined as such and remediated. The council is responsible for identifying the "appropriate person" to bear the costs for remediation, whether that be the original polluter, a knowing permitter, or where no such person can be identified the current land owner.

Funding to cover the costs of investigation, and in certain instances remediation, was once available under a central government fund known as the Contaminated Land Capital Grants Scheme.

This funding has now been withdrawn, which has hampered the ability of many local authorities, including St Helens Borough Council, to actively progress inspections under Part IIA. The majority of land contamination is investigated and remediated via the planning process.