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Contaminated Land

Contaminated Land

The Environmental Health department of St Helens Borough Council regulates contaminated land and the redevelopment of land affected by contamination through Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the development control process respectively. The department also deals with enquiries relating to land contamination from landowners, developers and members of the public.

Part IIA of the 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 Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy. 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.

Planning & Development Control

Linked to the council’s responsibilities under Part IIA is our regulation, via the planning process, of the redevelopment of land affected by contamination. Where a site is affected by contamination, responsibility for securing a safe development rests with the developer and/or landowner.

Notwithstanding this, in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework as well as policy CP1 of the St Helens Core Strategy (2012) and retained policy ENV26 of the St Helens Unitary Development Plan (1998), the council seeks to ensure that following redevelopment, sites are suitable for their proposed use.

In accordance with the NPPF as a minimum, after remediation, land should not be capable of being determined as contaminated land under Part IIA. The council seeks to achieve this by ensuring that it complies with the government's planning practice guidance on land affected by contamination. Contamination assessment reports, remedial strategies and validation reports must be undertaken in accordance with the government's land contamination risk management guidance.

Contaminated Land Enquiries and Searches

The council offers a service covering the provision of land contamination information for a given property or site. This may include, for example, information relating to known or potential contamination including historical land use, known areas of landfill or historic waste disposal and details of any site investigations reports.

The charge varies depending on whether the request is a ‘premises only’ enquiry or a ‘premises + 250m’ enquiry. Please contact us on 01744 673397 or environmentalhealth@sthelens.gov.uk for more information, prices or to request a search.

Environmental Information Regulations Requests

If you require specific information about land contamination, you can also make requests under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 via the council’s Contact Us page. Please be specific in stating the information you require. Please note that where relevant, charges will also be applied for the provision of information under EIR.

Service Objectives

  • To inspect the borough from time to time, in accordance with the council’s inspection strategy, for the purpose of identifying contaminated land.
  • To establish, where relevant, who may be the appropriate persons to bear responsibility for remediation.
  • To establish, where necessary, appropriate remediation methods, based on reasonability, and ensure that such remediation takes place.
  • To maintain a public register of contaminated land.
  • To review and update the council's Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy as and when required.
  • To provide advice to land-owning directorates of the council on contaminated land issues as required.
  • To regulate, via the planning process, the redevelopment of land affect by contamination.
  • To respond to complaints and service requests with respect to contaminated land.
  • To provide advice to members of the public, industry and the media on matters regarding contaminated land within the council's area of responsibility.

Radon Gas

Radon gas is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is released from some types of geology. Although the gas is radioactive, it is not considered to be a health issue until the gas becomes trapped in a confined space and concentrations of the gas build up to levels that are considered to be of concern. You can find out if your property is located in a radon-affected area and order a radon testing kit on the UK Radon website.

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