An introduction to contaminated land

In April 2000, the government introduced new legislation for the identification and treatment of contaminated land.

The aims of this legislation were to:

  • reduce contaminated land risks to an acceptable level
  • bring contaminated land back into beneficial use
  • ensure that the cost of doing so is reasonable and economically sustainable

This legislation gives us a duty to identify contaminated land within the borough through a published inspection strategy, which must be kept under review. In keeping with these requirements, we produced our first Strategy for Contaminated Land Inspection in 2001. A review of the strategy was completed in 2008.

Definition of contaminated land

An area may be labelled as contaminated land if it has the potential to cause significant harm due to substances in, on or under the land, or where there is likely to be pollution of controlled water. The harm may be to human health, plants, property, crops, livestock, ecological systems or ancient monuments and archaeological sites.

The situation in Cheltenham

Some land within the borough may be contaminated due to past industrial use. As part of its contaminated land inspection strategy, the council is in the process of inspecting sites to see if they present an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment. Where significant harm has been proven or there is a possibility of significant harm, such land is formally determined as contaminated land.

The council maintains a public register of land that has been formally determined as contaminated land.

Contaminated land search enquiries

Solicitors or homeowners may contact the council to see whether they hold information relating to contamination at a specific property or site. The council charges a fee for such information. The current fees for the 2016/2017 financial year are:

  • Contaminated land search: £79.56 inc VAT
  • Officer time (recharges): £wage + 30%
  • Contractors' time: at cost
  • A4 photocopying: 20p per page

New guidance for homeowners and homebuyers

We have produced guidance documents to assist those who believe that their property could be affected by land contamination. You can download this guidance or contact the environmental health team to obtain hard copies.