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Contaminated land

Find out about contaminated land and how to request a contaminated land enquiry.

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 (section 78A(2)) defines contaminated land as:

Any land which appears to the local authority in whose area it is situated to be in such a condition, by reason of substances in, on, or under the land, that:

  1. significant harm is being caused or there is a significant possibility of such harm being caused or
  2. significant pollution of controlled waters is being, or is likely to be, caused.

The Part 2A of  the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990 requires local authorities to identify land within their area where contamination due to historic use presents unacceptable risks to sensitive receptors (humans, surface and underground water, property, and other protected areas such as SPAs, SSSIs, nature reserves). As a council, we have a duty to deal with the contamination if 'Contaminated Land' as defined above, is identified in our area.

Contaminated land in our borough

We are required to keep a public register to record information on sites where notices have been issued, or a formal remediation statement has been prepared in line with Section 78(R) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (Act). 

There are currently no entries on this register as no land in our borough has been declared as Contaminated Land.

Contaminated land and planning

Most contamination in our borough is dealt with through the planning process.

The National Planning Policy Framework sets the framework for contaminated land investigation and remediation of proposed redevelopment sites to ensure that: the unacceptable risk to the future users is removed, and as a minimum the land should not be capable of being determined as contaminated under the Part IIA of the EPA1990 (NPPF paragraphs 120 and 121).

Development on contaminated land

We encourage sustainable use of land to reduce the pressure to build on greenfield land. Redeveloping brownfield sites also provides an opportunity to clean up land contamination and make sites suitable for use.

Our  icon Guidance for developers on contaminated land [258.22KB]  document explains the requirements for investigation and remediation of land proposed for redevelopment.

Contaminated land enquiry

We have a procedure to deal with detailed contaminated land search requests.

Fee for contaminated land enquiry 

The fee for a contaminated land enquiry is £86 for the first hour and £82 for each additional hour to cover the cost of time spent in searching records and preparing a response.

Making an enquiry

Your request must allow a minimum of three working weeks for us to respond because it may involve a search through historic data, previous investigations and liaison with external agencies.

These requests must be:

  • made in writing

  • accompanied by a local map clearly marking the boundary of the land

  • reasonable and specific in the questions asked, for example, "is the council aware of any land within 250 metres of the site which has been used for waste disposal to landfill?"

Our response will be based on the information readily available from various sources (historic maps, planning history, any contaminated land investigations carried out under contaminated land strategy or planning redevelopment process).

In all cases, please seek advice from your solicitor and/or an appropriately qualified and competent contaminated land expert, especially if any doubt exists related to ground contamination.

Other sources for contaminated land information

  1. Planning Services: If the site has been developed post 2000, there is a possibility that the land was investigated for contamination and remediated if required, as part of the redevelopment. You may wish to contact the Planning Services (planningenquiries@guildford.gov.uk) for information related to contaminated land conditions attached to a planning approval and status of those conditions.
  2. Visit the Environment Agency, What's in your backyard web page for information on landfill sites in proximity to your property.

Requesting a contaminated land enquiry

If you would like to request information held by the Environmental Health Division (EHO) about land within our borough, please send the request in writing, accompanied by a local map marking the boundary. Please be specific in your questions.

Send your request to:

Health and Community Care Services
Guildford Borough Council
Millmead House
Guildford GU2 4BB
Fax: 01483 444546

For more information, call: 01483 444371 or email: regulatoryservices@guildford.gov.uk

What is radon?

Radon is a colourless, odourless radioactive gas formed by the decay of small amounts of uranium that occur naturally in all rocks and soils.

It has the potential to enter and accumulate in building structures, especially confined spaces, such as basements. A long-term exposure to the gas is linked with health issues such as lung cancer.

Public Health England (PHE) recommends protective measures be installed in a property if a concentration of 200 becquerels per cubic metre (200 Bq m-3) is reached indoors. To test for radon, see the links below.

PHE provides resources and advice about radon for the public and has produced radon maps showing areas in England and Wales that may be affected by the gas.

Radon maps

The radon maps are based on geological conditions and look at the limited data from actual measurements taken from properties standing on the type of geology that has the potential to produce the gas.

The maps have identified a small area within the Guildford Borough Council under Radon Class 3 (3 to 5% of the properties likely to exceed the action levels) and 4 (5 to 10% likely to exceed the action levels). Public Health England recommends basic protection measures be installed if there are new developments in these areas.

For existing properties, please bear in mind that this classification only gives the percentage probability of affected houses. The only way to find out whether your property is exceeding the radon Action Level is by testing.

Testing for radon