Contaminated land

The Environmental Protection Service helps to ensure that land contamination risks in the Sheffield area are managed and addressed.

We respond to environmental enquiries, ensure that planning applications adequately consider contamination risks and produce the land contamination strategy for the council.

Contaminated land risks

When land is contaminated, it might pose a risk to the environment or people. Some of the common causes of contamination are:

  • previous industrial use (including factories, mines and quarries)
  • contaminated materials from demolition waste used as infill
  • landfills 
  • high levels of naturally occurring contamination

The potential risks of contaminated land need to be taken into account when planning a development or if you are considering buying or selling a house / piece of land. Many potentially contaminated sites can be developed without risk of harm to people if they are cleaned up.

What to do if you are planning to develop a site

For any new development, the developer is responsible for identifying potential risks to future occupiers of the site, to property and to the environment. A contaminated land risk assessment may be required depending on the type of development and the potential risks near to the site.

The supporting information, Development on Land affected by Contamination, provides guidance documents for landowners and developers and sets out responsibilities and likely requirements.

When considering remediation of a site, you may also need to show you have taken appropriate steps to protect people from contamination by using gas protection systems or using a cover system.

Additional technical guidance is available on verification requirements for Gas Protection Systems and verification requirements for Cover Systems. The Cover Systems guidance also includes details on the assessment of material being imported on to a site.

Please note that Sheffield City Council does not accept the use of the Screening Assessment Form referenced in the above document. 

Submitting a planning application

When you are considering developing a potentially contaminated site, you must follow these steps when applying for planning permission:

  • make sure the question on existing use on the planning application form has been correctly filled in
  • ensure you have submitted the correct remediation and verification information to show that the site is safe and suitable for use

We would also encourage you to:

  • raise land contamination issues at an early stage and discuss them with us
  • include information about remediation in the deeds to individual properties, in particular where cover systems have been used and where buildings include gas protection measures

 It is the responsibility of the developer to ensure that the land is safe for the intended use.

Environmental searches and enquiries

Environmental searches are often generated through the conveyancing process for residential and commercial properties. Where these searches identify an issue, they usually recommend contacting us for any further information.

Environmental enquiries usually relate to sales and acquisitions of land. Standard charges apply for most searches and enquiries.


We can’t guarantee that a site will never be classified as contaminated land, as additional information might come to light or environmental legislation may change.


Contact us if you want to submit an environmental search or enquiry by emailing Please include a site boundary plan with your enquiry.

Inspecting and cleaning up sites

We are required by the government under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to inspect our area to identify where historical contamination may pose a significant risk to people or the environment. We produced a Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy in 2001 that has been periodically reviewed and is currently being revised.


Part 2A only deals with land that 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.


We maintain a register of land which has been remediated under Part 2A. The register only includes details of land where formal action has been taken. It does not include details of every site in Sheffield.

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