Land is described as contaminated when it contains sufficient concentrations of harmful substances that may cause harm to humans, animals or the environment.
Causes of contaminated land
Examples of industrial and commercial operations which may result in contaminated land include:
- old gas work sites
- polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
- petrol stations
- diesel from leaking underground storage tanks
- fuel additives
- reclaimed land
- domestic waste
- hazardous waste
- incinerator ash
- landfill sites
- heavy metals
- industrial plant waste storage or treatment facilities
Checking whether a building has been built on contaminated land
In the past, there have been many cases in Jersey where land has been used to legally or illegally dump hazardous waste and is then built on.
If you are buying a house it is strongly recommended you instruct your legal representative to carry out the necessary legal searches which should highlight potential problems such as contaminated land.
Defining contaminated land
For a site to meet the definition of contaminated land, a pollution linkage must be established. A pollution linkage consists of 3 parts:
- a source of contamination in on or under the ground
- a pathway by which the contaminant is causing significant harm or which presents a significant possibility of such harm being caused
- a type of receptor specified in the UK Regulations. Examples of receptors include:
- water ie ground or surface or drinking waters
If the 3 components exist, the developer or suitable person should carry out a risk assessment to determine the likelihood of harm being caused, and the likely nature and extent of the harm caused if the predicted event actually occurred.
Investigation of land contamination
Developers who purchase land not knowing it is contaminated may find it becomes worthless and, depending on proposed usage, may have to clean it to an agreed standard set by the regulator(s). If clean up / remediation is insufficient, house sales may be delayed until the lending institutions are satisfied there is no future liability.
It is important therefore that those considering purchasing land satisfy themselves it is not contaminated. This can be done by instructing the services of a company or consultant who specialise in this type of work.
Planning guidance has been produced which must be followed if the development on contaminated land requires planning and building permission.
If planning permission is sought then you will need to liaise with the Department of the Environment. They will consult with:
- Environmental Health Department
- Environmental Services
- Health and Safety Inspectorate
- Department for Infrastructure (disposal of waste)
We also recommend the UK health protection code of practice for investigation of potentially contaminated land (BS 10175: 2001 ). This can be purchased online for approximately £200.
Development of contaminated land guidance
Owners, developers, agents and consultants: dealing with contaminated land guidance notes
Code of practice for investigation of potentially contaminated land UK (BS 10175: 2001) on BSI online bookshop website
Jersey legislation concerning contaminated land
You can find links below to the legislation that is applicable to contaminated land in Jersey.
Guidelines for decommissioning of fuel storage tanks
Advice on permanent and temporary decommissioning and requirements is available from the Petroleum Licensing Authority.
Decommissioning fuel storage tanks guidelines