Environmental Health - Environmental Protection

Contaminated Land

The Environmental Protection Section undertakes four main duties in relation to contaminated land:

  • Ensure brownfield site redevelopment results in property which is suitable for use through use of the Planning system.
  • Answer enquiries from solicitors associated with property transactions.
  • Investigate complaints regarding land contamination.
  • Inspect the Isle for sites which may be causing unacceptable risk to health or the environment (under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act).

Redevelopment  

All planning applications are cross-referenced against our database of information relating to land contamination gathered through our Inspection programme. Where it appears that a site may be affected by land contamination, we usually recommend that a condition be attached to planning permission, if it is granted. This condition requires that the developer undertakes a desk-study, site investigation and clean-up (where necessary). The responsibility for proving (to our satisfaction) that a site is suitable for use and will not pose an unacceptable risk to human health and the environment lies with the Developer. Where clean-up is required, its success must be verified before the condition can be discharged.

Occasionally, we may recommend that planning permission is not granted until sufficient site investigation information and a viable remediation methodology has been submitted to and approved by us. This would be the case, for example where there is doubt that a site can be successfully cleaned-up, or where the proposed redevelopment may jeopardise the clean-up and redevelopment of other adjacent sites.

Enquiries

As part of our inspection of the Isle under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act, we are undertaking a programme of research into regulatory databases and the locations of potentially contaminating land-uses, past and present. We are also gathering information about site conditions and those where clean-up has occurred through our Inspection programme and through our role in the Planning system. This information can be useful to people purchasing property when assessing the degree of risk posed by contamination. All enquiries will be dealt with as soon as possible and within 20 days unless impracticable. If the latter is true, the applicant will be notified within 20 days of the extension.

If you wish to make an enquiry relating to land contamination, put the specific enquiries in writing together with a map showing the location of the site and the address. Please note that the Council will not provide opinion. For larger sites, and those where a large amount of information is required a charge may be levied. If the additional charges are to be levied, this will be made clear before any information is released.

Investigations  

We investigate those complaints of contamination for which we have powers to act (under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act). The circumstances of the case will dictate which legislation applies. Generally, the Environment Agency is the appropriate regulator in cases of pollution incidents, where water pollution is imminent or occurring, or where contamination has resulted, or is likely to result from the illegal disposal of wastes. To alert the Environment Agency to such an incident call their 24 hour hotline on 0800 807060. The Council do not operate an emergency call-out service for contaminated land issues, but if you would like to make a complaint regarding land contamination, use the contact details at the base of the page.

Inspection

The inspection of the Isle is in order to identify any sites which may be causing significant harm to human heath, the wider environment or water pollution. Where such sites are found the Council will undertake an investigation and where necessary seek to ensure that the appropriate people undertake clean-up. Where cooperation is not forthcoming, the site will be formally determined as “Contaminated Land”, a Remediation Notice will be served and, if necessary a prosecution will be undertaken.

Further information on how we undertake our statutory duty to inspect the Isle is available in the Council’s Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy.

Register of Contaminated Land

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 “the Act” (as amended) requires the Isle of Wight Council to identify contaminated land in accordance with Statutory Guidance.  The qualifying criteria are more rigorous than simply assuming contamination due to past usage.  The Council has to prove that there is significant risk of significant harm to human health, flora, fauna, ground waters, building services and monuments.  This will often require soil and groundwater samples to have been taken to prove the existence of actual contaminants in sufficient quantities/concentration to cause significant harm.  The Council must also prove that there is a means (“pathway”) that this/these contaminant(s) can cause this harm.

If this proof is available the Council must, by the Act, determine the land to be contaminated and to require it’s clean up is cost effective.  If the appropriate person refuses to cooperate, a remediation notice will be served.  These notices specifying what has to be done by whom and when must be published in a register open to the public.

There are no sites on the Island that have been identified as “contaminated land” within the terms of the Act and so our particular register currently has no entries.  We will update this information if the situation changes.