Agenda item

Review of Contaminated Land Strategy

To consider the revised Contaminated Land Strategy as part of the 5-yearly cycle of review, ahead of consultation and approval by the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Public Protection (report of the Portfolio Holder for Public Protection and the Executive Director Strategy and Governance (Monitoring Officer)).


The Panel considered a report of the Portfolio Holder for Public Protection and Executive Director – Strategy and Governance setting out the revised Contaminated Land Strategy.


Councillors noted that Local authorities had a number of duties in respect of contaminated land.  These duties were originally imposed by Part 2A, Environmental Protection Act 1990 (Part 2A), as inserted by Section 57, Environment Act 1995.  The duties were implemented by the Contaminated Land (England) Regulations 2000 as amended, supported by Part 2A Contaminated Land Statutory Guidance. 

The UK policy on contaminated land was to prevent future pollution (dealt with separately through Groundwater Regulations and Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) Legislation) and to restore past damage / contamination in a structured way.  This element of the policy was delivered through a combination of the planning regime and the duties under Part 2A.The UK policy aimed to reduce unacceptable risks to human health and the environment, to enable the re-use of brownfield sites and to protect green-field sites.  This was based on a risk based approach that emphasised voluntary, positive and controlled action and recognised that the best means of paying for remediation was often through redevelopment.


The strategic approach by local authorities referred to above, was dealt with by a requirement for all local authorities to produce and publish a Contaminated Land Strategy.  The strategy detailed how contaminated land was to be identified and the inspection strategy to be employed (rational, ordered and efficient).  The aim of the strategy was to direct the work to assess potentially contaminated sites, ensure that the most pressing and serious problems were located first, reflected local circumstances and where appropriate formally determined land as contaminated land.  Local Authorities were also required to identify who was liable, secure remediation where necessary, or to act in default and recover costs and to maintain a public register of contaminated land.


The Strategy was last reviewed in 2014, at which time a number of changes had been made to reflect changes in legislation and statutory guidance (The Contaminated Land (England)(Amendment) Regulations 2012), as well as changes in the planning framework which included the introduction of the national planning policy framework at that time and removal of Defra (Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) grant funding for certain aspects (Pt 2A remediation work).


Members noted that this current draft  didn’t materially change the strategic approach already set out for contaminated land and that there had been no significant changes in legislation or statutory guidance that the Council had to have regard to at this time.  The opportunity has been taken to remove some duplication of information, move some technical information from the main body of the Strategy and move it to the appendices and make reference to the new South Lincolnshire Local Plan.

In response to a question from a Councillor, the Environmental Protection Manager explained that there were over 1000 potentially contaminated sites and that routine inspections did not take place.  The service was intelligence led and action was targeted where a complaint was received.


The Panel asked whether there was any opportunity to interact with the utility companies.  It was noted that it had proven difficult to obtain information from the utility companies.  However, with regard to planning permissions, a condition was added requiring ground works and having to report contamination if any was found.


Councillors referred to the former gypsy and traveller site at Gosberton and whether there were areas of concern with regard to contamination, as there was anecdotal  evidence that contaminated objects were buried.  The Environmental Protection Manager stated that the site was on a list of sites of potential concern.  If the site was used in the future then the Council would get involved, but there needed to be the potential for significant harm, for example the  contamination of controlled waters.  If there was no risk then it was unlikely that the Council would get involved.


Councillors asked what a ‘special’ site was. It was noted that the Council did not know of any contaminated areas that affected ‘special’ sites, and that the definition would be circulated to Councillors.


With regards to audit of the strategy, there was no external process but it was subject to internal audit.


Councillors praised the strategy for being easy to understand and noted that, as set out in legislation, the consultees would be neighbouring local authorities, the Environment Agency, Natural England, Fire and Rescue and other relevant bodies.  There would be a six week consultation period.




That the Panel commends the draft Contaminated Land Strategy for consultation.


Supporting documents: