Land contamination describes a general spectrum of site and soil conditions. It can include areas with higher levels of naturally occurring substances. It also covers specific sites that have been occupied by former industrial uses, which may have left a legacy of contamination from operational activities, or from waste disposal.
It can also include areas of land in which substances are present as a result of direct or indirect events. These include accidents, spillages, aerial deposition or migration.
In general terms these circumstances can be described as 'land affected by contamination'. However, for any individual site the land owner or other interested person faces two questions:
- Does the contamination matter?
- What needs to be done about it?
The answers to both questions depend on when the contamination happened.
For 'new' contamination, the accepted principle is that deterioration of the environment needs to be avoided. This principle underlies the approach in legal regimes aimed at controlling potentially polluting activities.
However, government policy recognises that when dealing with past contamination, the opportunity to maintain a clean environment has already passed.
In deciding whether contamination matters, the amount of, or concentration of, any contamination present is always going to be a significant factor, but it does not provide the whole answer. It is also necessary to consider to what extent the substances present may harm human health or the wider environment, including damage to property, such as buildings.
What risk, if any, is caused by exposure to the contaminants and is that risk acceptable?
Is there any land affected by contamination within Ashford borough?
With an industrial history based upon activities such as railway engineering and brick making it is no surprise to learn that some land affected by contamination is likely to be present. However, the opportunity to address this legacy of contamination often arises when the land is redeveloped.
Environmental Health play a major role in securing the safe redevelopment of land by working closely with developers and environmental consultants to ensure that land is ‘suitable for use’.
We have also prepared a Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy [doc] 41KB to fulfil our legal duty under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Disclosure of environmental information
It is not uncommon for environmental searches to be conducted at the time of property purchase or sale, and these occasionally raise further questions which need to be directed towards the relevant local authority, or other agencies.
The common questions and answers at the bottom of this page may resolve the more basic enquiries.
Where questions, further to the above, remain the Environmental Protection team will normally respond in accordance with the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. A minimum fee of £25.00 (+VAT) will be charged (and a further £25.00 +VAT for any additional hour(s)). Such searches will take into account the information and records available to the Environmental Protection team. However we would highlight that whilst effort is made to ensure that the information provided in relation to enquiries received about contaminated land issues are up to date and accurate, Ashford BC does not accept responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions in the information supplied, particularly when such information has been compiled from facts or opinions provided to the Council by a third party. The Council will not be held responsible for any loss caused from the use or misuse of the information provided, and finally please note that the council does not certify the land as 'free from contamination' because it is relying upon historical land use datasets, rather than site specific sampling and analysis.
Separately you may also be able to find relevant information, such as contaminated land surveys, on public records held by our Planning Department. Please see our land charges pages for further information and access. Apply for a search in relation to land contamination information held by the Environmental Protection team online.
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- Contaminated Land Strategy [pdf] 5MB
- DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
- Environment Agency