Contaminated Land Development Conditions


Under its Part IIA Environmental Protection Act 1990 duties, this authority has identified Potentially Contaminated Sites within the District and has prioritised these sites for further inspection. Details of how the Part IIA requirements are being implemented in this district are contained in the Council’s Contaminated Land Strategy and further information can be obtained from the Environment and Street Scene Directorate.


Most of these Potentially Contaminated Sites will be investigated and where necessary remediated under the Planning Regime as they come up for redevelopment, through the imposition of land contamination conditions to relevant planning approvals.

The links listed below (A-G) provide information on how land contamination is dealt with under the Planning Regime.

For building control requirements please see Contaminated Land for Building Control.

For further information or advice on developing potentially contaminated land within the District, contact the Contaminated Land Officer -  telephone: 01992 564036 Monday to Friday, 7:30am to 15:30pm, or email:

A) Land Contamination and Planning Application Forms

Advice on Land Contamination and Planning Application Forms including Full and Outline Planning Applications, Pre-application Advice, and Householder Applications.

- A1) Full and Outline Planning Applications

There are 3 questions relating to land contamination that need to be answered in the Existing Use sections of Full and Outline Planning Application forms:

  1. Land which is known to be contaminated - confirmed by previous investigation and assessment
  2. Land where contamination is suspected for all or part of the site - a past or present use, either on site or offsite, that could have resulted in contamination over all or part of the site: contaminating uses such as landfill sites, factories, petrol stations, coach depots, brick works, sewage works, airfields, farmyards, horticultural nurseries, kennels, stables, dry cleaners, laboratories, filled in ponds, made ground etc. (see pages 15-17 of the Council’s  Contaminated Land Strategy for further information) or the presence of natural contaminants (eg peat beds containing methane that are present with the natural gravels in the Lea and Roding Valleys
  3. A proposed use that would be particularly vulnerable to the presence of contamination - a sensitive use such as domestic housing, schools, nurseries, hospitals etc.

Where the answer to any of these questions is yes, a minimum of a Phase 1 report will need to be submitted with the application.

At sites where it may not be possible to remediate worst case risks (eg developing on a landfill site or retrofitting gas mitigation measures into an existing building), it will be necessary for the applicant to also provide a Phase 2 investigation report and if necessary a detailed remediation proposals report  to demonstrate the feasibility of remediating unacceptable risks and providing any necessary aftercare.

- A2) Pre-application Advice

Where pre-application advice for developments is obtained, printouts from the Council’s Land Contamination database and copies of 1960-2010 aerial photographs can be provided at no additional cost, for inclusion in any Phase 1 report. It may also be possible to screen historic planning records and provide hard copies of relevant records at no additional cost. However, where files are very large, it may be necessary to provide you with a copy of the entire file and to pass on the Council’s costs for copying.

- A3) Householder Applications

Applications for extensions and outbuildings are unlikely to have land contamination conditions attached to planning approvals.

New extensions and outbuildings cover soils and therefore prevent the growing of vegetables, dermal contact with soils, ingestion of soils and inhalation of soil dust pathways to humans and prevent rainwater soaking into the ground and minimise the flushing of contaminants into groundwater and surface watercourses. The local water undertaker is responsible for ensuring that barrier water pipes are used to prevent organic contaminants permeating plastic water pipes and contaminating the water supply (Thames Water or Veolia Water) and Building Control regulate risks to buildings & services from aggressive ground conditions and risks from Ground Gases or Vapours accumulating in extensions and controlled outbuildings. Building Control also regulate risks to humans occupiers.

B) Land Contamination Planning Conditions

When full planning consent or outline consent is granted for the development of a site where potential risks from land contamination have been identified, Planning Conditions will be attached to the approval.

- B1) Ground Gas Condition

Where potential ground gas risks only from offsite sources (eg offsite landfills within 250m or adjoining backfilled ponds) or potential risks from on site natural sources (eg River Valley Peat Beds) have been identified, a ground gas condition may be attached to the consent requiring the developer to either install full ground gas measures within the building or to carry out a ground gas investigation in order to determine what if any measures are required.

- B2) Vulnerable Receptors Condition

Where vulnerable receptors sensitive to the presence of contamination have been identified (domestic housing, schools, nurseries, hospitals, etc) but no potential sources of contamination have been identified, then no further investigation will be required but an unexpected contamination condition may be attached to the consent requiring the risks from any unexpected contamination discovered during development works to be investigated, assessed and where necessary remediated in agreement with the local planning authority.

- B3) Standard Land Contamination Conditions

Where potential land contamination risks from on site or adjoining sources have been identified, then 5 phased standard land contamination conditions may be attached to any approval granted:

  • Pre-commencement Phase 1, Phase 2 & Remediation conditions.
  • A post-commencement Unexpected Contamination condition
  • A post-completion Verification condition

As specified in the standard land contamination conditions, protocols for investigations must be agreed in writing with the Local Authority before the investigations commence, the details reserved by each phased condition must be submitted and approved before moving on to the next condition (a completed application form and the appropriate fee must accompany the report) and all pre-commencement conditions must be approved before any demolition, site clearance or building control works start.

C) Land Contamination Guidance and the new National Planning Policy Framework

The following land contamination guidance relating to development control is contained in the new National Planning Policy Framework published on 27th March 2012:

120. Where a site is affected by contamination or land stability issues, responsibility for securing safe development rests with the developer and/or landowner.

121. Planning Policies and Decisions should also ensure that:

  • The site is suitable for its new use taking account of ground conditions and land instability, including from natural hazards or former activities such as mining, pollution arising from previous uses, and any proposals for mitigation including land remediation or impacts on the natural environment arising from remediation:
  • After remediation, as a minimum, land should not be capable of being determined as contaminated land under Part llA EPA 1990; and
  • Adequate site investigation information, prepared by a competent person, is presented.

Annex 2: Glossary.

  • Competent person (to prepare site investigation information): A person with a recognised relevant qualification, sufficient experience in dealing with the type(s) of pollution or land instability, and membership of a relevant professional organisation. 
  • Site Investigation Information: Includes a risk assessment of land potentially affected by contamination, or ground stability and slope stability reports, as appropriate. All investigations of land potentially affected by contamination should be carried out in accordance with established procedures (such as BS10175:2001 Code of Practice for the Investigation of Potentially Contaminated Sites). The minimum information that should be provided by an applicant is the report of a desk study and site reconnaissance.

The new NPP Framework replaces Planning Policy Statement 23 (PPS23) Annexe 2. Development on Land Affected by Contamination 2004.

The BS10175:2001 Code of Practice for the Investigation of Potentially Contaminated Sites, which has been superseded by the BS10175:2011 Code of Practice, contains references to over 200 other relevant publications, including the DEFRA / Environment Agency 2004 publication Model Procedures for the Management of Contaminated Land CLR11

The Department for Communities and Local Government has also published draft Planning Practice Guidance, which includes a Land Remediation Guidance section.

D) Guidance on Employing Land Contamination Consultants

As specified in the National Policy Framework Guidance, we require detailed adequate site investigation information prepared by a Competent Person with a recognised relevant qualification, sufficient experience and membership of a relevant professional organisation. 

Consultants will need to provide evidence that they comply with these criteria.

The Council cannot recommend or pass comment on any land contamination consultancies. The Environment Agency CLR12 publication provides some advice on the procurement of consultants or you could view the company profiles of land contamination consultants in the Environmental Data Services ENDS Directory in order to select an appropriate consultancy for your requirements.

E) Land Contamination Report Requirements and Protocol Agreements

As specified in the National Policy Framework Guidance, detailed adequate site investigation information prepared by a Competent Person with a recognised relevant qualification, sufficient experience and membership of a relevant professional organisation is required.

Phase 1 and Phase 2 Planning Conditions require protocols for the investigations to be submitted to and approved in writing by the Planning Authority before commencement of the investigations.

It is essential that contaminated land investigations, assessments, remediation works and aftercare arrangements are carried out to an appropriate standard in order to protect receptors such as humans, controlled waters, flora & fauna, landscape vegetation and buildings & services. This will also help to avoid any future liabilities that developers may become responsible for under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

The Environment Agency (EA) has been appointed to produce Government backed Technical Guidance and their Model Procedures for the Management of Contaminated Land CLR11 publication provides an overview of the management process and lists the key information sources (available up to the time of publication in September 2004). Many of these reference documents are available for free download from the EA and news on more recent publications and developments can be found by following links from the Agency’s main Contaminated Land webpage.

Under the Planning Regime, this authority consults the EA concerning the adequacy of the investigations and remediation schemes with respect to risks to Controlled Waters. For further information see the EA's Guiding Principles for Land Contamination: GPLC1, GPLC2 and GPLC3.

The Essex Contaminated Land Consortium has also produced a general guidance document, Land Affected by Contamination, 2nd edition 2007, to assist applicants and developers of land potentially affected by contamination (Please note that some of the guidance referred to has now been superseded or withdrawn). Of particular note are the Consortium's requirements with respect to the quality of imported soils contained in Appendix 1.

Section updated 26/05/15

F) Phase 1 Reports

Phase 1 Preliminary Risk Assessment reports must include sufficiently detailed  basic information, desk study source information and Site reconnaissance information to enable all relevant potentially contaminating sources, pathways and receptors to be identified, to enable an accurate detailed preliminary conceptual model to be produced. This conceptual model will then be refined through the Phase 2, Remediation and Verification process.

- F1) Basic Site Information

The following basic site information must be included in the report:

  1. Name, address and location including grid reference
  2. Site ownership and occupation details
  3. Size of site
  4. Broad description of location
  5. Recent OS map of the site and surrounding area
  6. Recent aerial photograph of the site and surrounding area
  7. Existing detailed Site Plan
  8. Proposed detailed Site Plan
  9. Copy of the Planning consent and a copy of the approved site plan showing the curtilage of the site to be assessed
  10. Copies of other relevant planning details and plans (eg proposed site layout plans, landscape vegetation scheme, tree survey, site levels, archaeological survey, asbestos survey, design & access statement).
  11. Plans and details of existing and proposed underground services (where offsite ground gas sources are identified plans showing services running between the 2 sites will also be required)
Section last updated 26/05/15


- F2) Basic Screening Data (potentially contaminating sources and environmental setting)

Historic maps provide only a snapshot in time once every 25 years or so and only certain types of potentially contaminating uses are labelled. Further readily available information on the history of the site, such as planning records, environmental records, local enquiries and local history information will also need to be screened (see DoE CLR3)

The environmental screening reports produced by commercial third party data providers do not include local authority pollution incidents, registered Private Water Supplies, detailed information on landfill sites or information on potentially contaminated sites identified in the area for further assessment under the Part llA EPA 1990 regime.

Reports must include as a minimum the following screening data:

  1. Copies of available historic 1:2500 and 1:10,000 maps reproduced at the original scale, together with appropriate map legends.
  2. Copies of all available historic aerial photographs must be included in the appendices of your report.
  3. A list of all the previous planning applications shown on the i-Plan Planning Explorer (obtainable from the Council’s website by searching under the relevant address or planning file number), together with copies of any relevant plans and documents published on the website.
  4. Copies of relevant plans and documents from paper, electronic and microfiche planning files obtained by either visiting the Civic Offices (by prior appointment) and screening the files in person, and paying for hard copies, or by emailing the Planning Document Request Team to make a 'Document Request' for electronically copying the relevant files and microfiche (no charge is currently made for this service).
  5. Copies of relevant Building Control records (Building Control records can be viewed and copies of relevant records obtained by visiting the Civic Offices (by prior appointment), and or by emailing Planning Document Request Team.
  6. GIS printouts from the Council’s land contamination database, annotated with basic screening data, will be provided upon agreement of the Phase 1 protocol. This map is generated from a draft internal database and is not meant to be definitive but should assist you with your investigations. It is the responsibility of the developer to ensure comprehensive screening for the site history is carried out.
  7. Relevant Local Authority information on Local Authority pollution incidents, Local Authority fly tipping, historic Private sewer & cesspool overflows and sewage pollution incidents, Private Water Supplies Local Authority regulated prescribed processes, and any inspection, investigation or determinations carried out under Part IIA EPA sites etc obtainable from the (Environmental) Neighbourhoods Directorate EIR team (a fee may be charged for this service).
  8. Topographical and Geological details and copies of BGS borehole logs for boreholes located in the vicinity of the site.
  9. Previous investigation reports where available

Where additional information is available on former uses of a site, the relevant body must be contacted and the information screened and included in the appendices of the report eg :

  1. Petrol filling stations (The Petroleum Inspectorate at Essex County Council )
  2. Electricity Sub Stations (UK Power Networks)
  3. Railway Land (Transport for London Archives and London Transport Museum)
  4. Military Airfields (Commercially available Airfield Plans also showing Dispersed sites; Hendon Royal Air Force Museum, internet history sites etc)

and where relevant, additional information should be obtained by making local enquiries (with former employees, long term neighbours etc), by researching local history (for example, British History Online) and checking historic trade directories (1838-1937), Available free of charge by contacting Planning Document Request Team the Yellow Pages Archive (1975-present) and commercial data providers eg Thomson Directories (2001-present).

Where offsite ground gas sources are present, plans of underground services located between the 2 sites must also be included, in order to identify potential pathways.

Section last updated 26/05/2016

- F3) Site reconnaissance

Site Reconnaissance should be undertaken after the basic site information and basic screening data on potentially contaminating uses and environmental conditions has been obtained and examined, in order that any relevant issues requiring more detailed inspection during the site walkover can be identified.

Guidance on the required Site Reconnaissance element of the assessment can be found in DoE CLR2 volume 1 and DoE CLR2 volume 2.

Detailed photographs of the site reconnaissance visit must be included in the appendices of the report, together with a location plan indicating the positions and direction that photographs were taken from.

Site Walkover checklists (examples of which are contained in Annex 1 of EA/NHBC R&D66 Annex 1 and in CLR2 volume 1) must be completed and included in the appendices of the Phase 1 report.

- F4) Outline Conceptual Model and Qualitative Risk Assessment

A clear detailed tabular outline conceptual model containing all potential pollutant linkages must be drawn up from the information obtained from the desk study research and site reconnaissance.

Information on potential contaminants from the potentially contaminating sources identified can be obtained from the relevant DoE Industry Profile.

Information on potential contaminants from contaminating uses such as farms, hospitals, stables & kennels and cemeteries for which no DoE Industry Profiles are available can be obtained from EFDC guidance sheets (Horticultural Nursery and Farmyard), the EA’s Pollution Prevention Guidelines (eg PPG25 Hospitals & Healthcare, and PPG24 Stables, Kennels & Catteries) and from other publications such as the EA Assessing the Groundwater Pollution Potential of Cemetery Developments.

Under the planning regime it is also necessary to assess risks from natural contaminants (eg ground gases from Arctic Peat beds associated locally with river gravels) and risks from micro-organisms (eg pathogens associated with sewage or animal use).

The tabular outline conceptual model must contain as a minimum columns listing all

  • Potential Contaminating Uses [eg Made Ground]
  • Potential contaminating sources [eg asbestos cement hardcore, ash & clinker and organic material for a Made Ground use]
  • Potential Contaminants [eg asbestos fibres from asbestos cement hardcore; PAH (USEP 16 priority PAH), metals (eg lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, copper, zinc), metalloids (eg arsenic, boron, selenium) and other parameters (eg sulphate & pH) from ash & clinker and Ground gases (eg methane & carbon dioxide) from organic material]
  • Potential Pathways [eg inhalation; dermal contact; ingestion; permeation of plastic water supply pipes; accumulation and inhalation of gases, accumulation and explosion of gases etc (all individual pathways must be listed from each contaminant or groups of contaminants with similar properties/effects, to each receptor or groups of similar receptors]
  • Receptors [eg humans, flora, fauna, buildings & services, Surface Water, Ground Water, SSSIs, Scheduled Ancient Monuments]

Additional columns should then be added containing additional source/pathway/receptor information that could modify the linkage (eg hard surfacing proposals or ground gas mitigation measures in buildings).

Where a site is zoned into different contaminating source areas or areas with different receptors, separate Outline Conceptual Models should be produced for each zone.

A detailed Qualitative risk assessment (showing probability, consequence and risk classifications) must be undertaken for each potential pollutant linkage in order to catergorise the potential risks and determine the level of investigation required for the individual containments as appropriate under the phase 2.

The outline conceptual model can then be further refined if required, if an exploratory investigation is carried out.

Section updated 26/05/2015

G) Phase 2 Sampling Protocol

Should potentially unacceptable risks be identified in the preliminary risk assessment, following approval of the Phase 1 details, it will be necessary to submit a protocol for the Phase 2 investigation for agreement.

The sampling strategy must be based on the Outline Conceptual Model.

Information on soil sampling requirements can be obtained from the DoE CLR4 Sampling Strategies for Contaminated Land, the EA Secondary Model Procedure for the Development of Appropriate Soil Sampling Strategies for Land Contamination and BS10175:2011.

Any ground gas monitoring will need to be carried out in line with current guidance (e.g. BS 8485:2007, CIRIA C665, CIRIA R131, CIRIA R150 and NHBC Guidance on Methane and Carbon Dioxide 2007), with care taken to place response zones into the appropriate strata and to monitor during worst case conditions (e.g. during a period of rapidly falling atmospheric pressure, during or immediately after heavy rainfall and while ground conditions are both frozen and dry), with full reporting of meteorological conditions and inclusion of Met Office reports. Gas Monitoring Recording lists (eg Appendix C NHBC 2007) will also need to be included in the Appendices of the Phase 2 report, together with information on the calibration of gas monitors. 

Sampling holes must be logged in accordance with the requirements detailed in BS10175:2011 Investigation of Potentially Contaminated Sites and BS5930:1999+A2 2010 Code of Practice for Site Investigations.

Full details of sampling procedures, collection and storage of samples and signed chain of custody sheets must be provided.

* All analysis must be UKAS Accredited to MCERTS standards where applicable. The screening / identification / quantification of asbestos fibres in soil must also be UKAS Accredited.