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Contaminated Land

Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 placed an obligation on us to inspect the land in our area to identify areas of potentially contaminated land. Once identified, this land would then be investigated and remediated if necessary, thereby allowing development to take place in the future.

To date, we have identified several thousand sites of potentially contaminated land and are currently investigating those we consider to be of higher risk. These investigations will take place in accordance with the council's Contaminated Land Strategy. This website acts as an invaluable resource of information and guidance aimed at both developers and householders.

Service Objectives

  • To inspect the council's area for the purpose of identifying contaminated land sites
  • To establish who may be the appropriate persons to bear responsibility for remediation
  • To carry out a risk assessment of contaminated land sites in order to apply a classification scheme for prioritisation
  • To determine the appropriate best practice remediation methods, based on reasonability, and ensure that such remediation takes place
  • To complete and maintain a public register of contaminated land
  • To implement and review the council's Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy
  • To provide advice to land owning directorates of the Council on contaminated land issues
  • To provide advice to Planning and Development Control on matters relating to the development of contaminated land
  • To respond to complaints and requests for service from service users 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. 

Contaminated Land Strategy

Under the new contaminated land provisions contained in Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, we have to inspect our area for the purposes of identifying contaminated land. The need for the new regime arose because there had been a gap in the effective regulation of contaminated land. Previously, the regulatory management of contaminated land had been largely achieved within the planning regime and, occasionally, within the legal framework for the control of statutory nuisance. 

These legal powers have proved, however, to be largely ineffective and inconsistently used by local authorities. Effective regulation is essential to support public confidence in development on contaminated land and so avoid the risk of blight arising from uncertainty, leading in some cases to economic and social disadvantage.

Fundamental to the new approach is the importance of risk assessment and risk management, while recognising the need for reasonableness. The Council's successful implementation of the regime has required consultation, co-operation and partnership between all involved in dealing with contaminated land problems and a culture of openness and transparency.

The Secretary of State has issued statutory guidance to local authorities on the implementation of Part IIA. This guidance required local authorities to take a strategic approach to inspecting their areas and publish this in a written strategy. This strategy sets out how the St Helens Council ('the Council') has implemented its inspection duties under Part IIA. The strategy was produced in 2001 and was reviewed in 2012.

Risk Assessment

Site investigation and risk assessment

Site investigation and risk assessment reports will be required in all cases where contamination is known or suspected. Pre-application discussions will establish at what stage in the planning process the investigation will need to be carried out. An independent, reputable environmental consultant should normally carry this out. It is recommended that site investigations and risk assessments be carried out using a tiered approach.  The Model Procedures for the Management of Land Contamination (CLR11) describes the phases that should be followed to identify risks and make judgements about the consequences of developing land affected by contamination. These are outlined below:

Preliminary Risk Assessment

This involves carrying out a desktop study and developing a conceptual model of the site. The desktop study is the collection and examination of existing information from a variety of sources. In particular, the history of the site should be examined through the use of historical maps. Together with a walkover survey of the site, the preliminary risk assessment should lead to the development of a conceptual model identifying any potential sources of contamination, any susceptible receptors and any pathways by which the contaminants may cause harm to the receptors.

Where the preliminary risk assessment indicates the possibility of significant harm being caused it will be necessary to proceed to a generic quantitative risk assessment. If the preliminary risk assessment indicates that there is no significant likelihood of harm being caused then no further investigation is likely to be required.

Generic Quantitative Risk Assessment

This involves sampling and analysis to determine what contaminants are present and in what quantity. A sampling strategy is agreed between the developer and the Planning Officer in consultation with our Contaminated Land Officers before investigations take place.

On completion of the preliminary risk assessment and, where required, a generic quantitative risk assessment, a report will have to be submitted which should include the following:

  • Details of desktop study and site inspection.
  • If appropriate, details of sampling strategy
  • Results of sampling
  • Analysis of the results and comparisons with generic criteria
  • If appropriate, a detailed, site specific assessment of the risks to human health

Where the generic quantitative risk assessment confirms the likelihood of significant harm being caused, it will be necessary to proceed to a detailed quantitative risk assessment. If the generic quantitative risk assessment indicates that there is no significant likelihood of harm being caused then no further investigation is likely to be required. 

Detailed Quantitative Risk Assessment

This involves the derivation of site-specific assessment criteria against which the results of soil analysis may be compared.

Where the detailed quantitative risk assessment confirms the likelihood of significant harm being caused, it will be necessary to proceed to a remediation options appraisal. If the detailed quantitative risk assessment indicates that there is no significant likelihood of harm being caused then no further investigation is likely to be required.

Changes to the UK Contaminated Land Exposure Assessment (CLEA) Model

During 2008-09, the Environment Agency revised and republished the CLEA framework reports and software following extensive consultation with contaminated land practitioners. As a result of this consultation and review process, the Environment Agency withdrew all the previous CLR 7-10 documents (9 & 10 have been re-published) and Soil Guideline Values (SGVs) as they no longer reflected the updated revised approach to human health risk assessment. New SGV substance reports were published with others to be published in the future.

Remediation Options Appraisal

This is the identification of feasible remediation options, a detailed evaluation of those options and the development of a remediation strategy.

Implementation of the Remediation Strategy

This involves the preparation of an implementation plan, the design, implementation of the remediation scheme and, where necessary, long term monitoring and maintenance. 

External links

CLEA v1.04 and SGV information is available from the Environment Agency. We advocate validation of gas protection measures using the Gas Protection Validation Proforma professionally produced by Liverpool City Council, Coopers and Smith and Grant.