Industrial decline in the United Kingdom has left many areas of vacant, derelict and underused land which may contain substances in the ground that have the potential to cause harm to human health and the wider environment.
In the United Kingdom there are 2 ways of dealing with land affected by the presence of contaminated land. Through the town planning development control process and the enforcement of Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
The Environmental Protection Act 1990
The Environmental Protection Service is responsible for implementing Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and has a dedicated Contaminated Land Officer to undertake this role.
Part IIA requires us to inspect our area for the purpose of identifying contaminated land. In accordance with Part IIA, we produced a Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy in 2001 which has been periodically reviewed and is currently being revised.
Part IIA only deals with land which in its current use has the potential to cause 'significant harm' to human health, specified plants and animals, specified buildings and property and the water environment.
The legislation also requires that we compile and maintain a register of contaminated land. This register only includes details of land where formal action has been taken - it does not include details of every site in Sheffield.
Development on land potentially affected by contamination
Part IIA of the Environmental protection Act 1990 deals with land, which in its current use, has the potential to cause significant harm.
It is government policy that most land affected by the presence of contamination will be dealt with during the planning process. For planning purposes land contamination has a wider meaning.
For any new development the developer is responsible for identifying potential risks to future occupiers of the site.
The actual or possible presence of contamination is a material planning consideration. In many cases it will be an advantage to determine whether there are likely to be any contamination issues on site before submitting an application for planning consent.
This may involve a basic historical land use search and site walk over. On large scale developments it could form part of a pre-application enquiry where any necessary investigations can be determined prior to submitting a planning application.
On any site where there is the potential for contamination to exist, the Development Control service of Planning, Transport and Highways will consult with us the Environmental Protection Service.
We are mainly concerned with risks to human health and ensuring that the proposed development will be suitable for use.
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