Land quality - overview

Land quality refers to the extent to which land is free from contamination and therefore suitable for a particular use. Historic industrial processes have often had damaging effects on land quality and are still responsible for many existing contaminated sites in the UK today.

Since there is a growing pressure to redevelop former industrial sites (e.g. landfill sites, factories) assessing the risks to human health and the natural environment from historic contamination has become increasingly important.

Who is responsible

If a site is to be developed through the planning process, any potential contamination issues are dealt with under the Town and Country Planning Act.

It is the developer's responsibility to make sure the land is suitable for its proposed use. We advise developers on potential contamination issues throughout the planning process. Further information is available on our Land quality and planning applications page.

Where land is not being developed through the planning process, we investigate, through Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, whether the land fits the definition of contaminated land due to historic contamination.  If a site falls within this definition, we have a duty to require that it is remediated in line with the suitable for use approach. 

The Environment Agency becomes involved where there is a risk from contamination on controlled waters.

Land Quality Strategy

We are the main regulators for land quality and have published our Land Quality Strategy for inspecting land.

Contaminated Land Register

We maintain a Public Contaminated Land Register in accordance with the legal requirements.  There are currently no entries in our Contaminated Land Register.

Please note that the register does not include details of sites that have been remediated through the planning process.