Accessibility and Display Options

Choose accessibility and display settings
Text Preferences
Colour Schemes
Save Close


Land Contamination and the Planning Regime

Frequently asked questions

What information needs to be submitted with my application?

If a site is known, has a potential or is suspected to be affected by contamination from either an on or off site source, then the developer/ applicant is required to submit the following information in support of their application.

Planning policy statement 23 requires that investigations are in accordance with British Standard BS 10175:2001 Investigation of potentially contaminated sites – code of practice.

If this information is not submitted, the Contaminated Land Officer may recommend that the application is refused on the basis of insufficient information.

Should the site be suspected to be severely contaminated, a desk study and site walkover may not be sufficient for the Council to determine the application and site investigation data or even a detailed remediation strategy may be required to be submitted with the application.

In very rare circumstances a site may not be suitable for particular sensitive uses even with remediation. In these cases the application will be refused.

To find out if the Council holds information relating to your site please contact the Contaminated Land Officer on 01329 236100.

How are planning applications assessed for land contamination issues?

If an application falls into one of the categories below, the Development Control Officer will consult with the Contaminated Land Officer to find out if there is a potential for the land to be affected by contamination.

The Contaminated Land Officer (CLO) will search Council records, historic maps, historic trade directory information and map based information to establish whether or not there is or has been a former commercial or industrial use, a history of, or a potential for tipping or landfilling on site or within 250m; or if the site has been subject to previous remediation actions. The CLO will also assess all information submitted with the application.

Once the assessment has been completed, the Contaminated Land Officer will make recommendations to the Head of Planning regarding any objections to the application, whether conditions and/or obligations are required to be attached to any approval or whether conditions are not deemed necessary.

The officer will assess each application taking into consideration information held by the Council, information submitted by the applicant and appropriate planning policy.

PPS 23 Planning Policy Statement 23 Pollution Control Annex 2 Land Affected by Contamination provides guidance with regards to determining planning applications on sites affected by contamination, for more information visit the Communities website External Hyperlink.

The Development Control Officer may also send the application to the Environment Agency External Hyperlink to obtain comments relating to developments on or within 250m of active landfill sites or sites with a current waste management license or to obtain comments in relation to pollution of controlled waters issues, site drainage, piling or anything that relates to an Environment Agency area of regulatory control.

What is the difference between the Environment Agency and Environmental Health?

The Environment Agency is a government organisation that is completely separate to Fareham Borough Council, which is responsible for the protection of the environment.  Their regulatory responsibilities cover a number of different disciplines including: protection of water quality, waste disposal, air pollution, fisheries, flooding, and land quality. The Environment Agency officers work very closely with the Council to ensure that land contamination issues are dealt with through the planning process regime and under part IIA of the EPA 1990 External Hyperlink (this is an external hyperlink). Under the planning process the Environment Agency are a statutory consultee and they provide technical advice to the Council for issues relating to pollution of controlled waters. Therefore, the Environment Agency may request works to be carried out to satisfy them in addition to those required by the Council's Contaminated Land team.

Environmental Health, or Regulatory Services as the department is now called, are a section within Fareham Borough Council responsible for issues including: health and safety, food hygiene, abandoned vehicles, travellers, fly tipping, stray dogs, animal boarding facilities, noise, drainage problems, licensing, housing fitness, air pollution and contaminated land.

As you will see there is a certain degree of cross-over between the regulatory controls.

Why do I have a condition requiring me to investigate for land contamination?

If a condition has been attached to your planning permission requiring information on land contamination to be submitted then it is likely that a potential for contamination has been noted during the consultation process but sufficient information has not been submitted in order to clarify what risks are present or enable design of suitable remedial measures. The condition may require you to submit one or some or all of the following;

The assessment of the presence of contamination and of the significance of the risks that may be posed requires careful professional judgment and competent expert advice.

What is a Desk Study?

The desk study involves the collation and assessment of current and historic records, documentation and maps. This study should provide a detailed account of the current and historic uses of the site and surrounding area, including identification of the activities undertaken in association with those uses, identification of the potential contaminants that could be found on the site or that could be affecting the site as a result of those activities or activities undertaken on neighbouring land. Consideration should be given to the interaction between the potential contaminants and underlying geology and hydrogeology and geography e.g. topography, surface waters, details of the intended site layout/ surfacing and the proposed new use e.g. residential with garden areas or commercial with landscaped areas. The purpose being to identify contaminants likely to be present or affecting the site and their chemical form/ properties, pathways along which contaminants may move and the receptors that the contaminants that may affect.

The desk study should also consider how site investigation and the new development will affect the site; will it introduce new ways for contaminants to move across and off site?  For example, will piled foundations which penetrate through clay strata to underlying chalk enable contaminants to move down into the chalk aquifer? Consideration should be given to whether site investigation could mobilise contamination and cause pollution of ground or surface waters and details of precautionary measures that can be taken to prevent such occurrences should be provided in the submitted information.

Whilst useful commercial internet based desk studies on their own without further investigation and assessment are not deemed sufficient to enable discharge of planning conditions and as such they will not be approved without additional information.

An initial assessment of the hazards and risks associated with the pollutant linkages should be presented within the report. This is usually in the form of a site specific conceptual model. This should identify all possible pollutant linkages considered to be applicable to the site in question.

Table 1 Tabular version of a conceptual model PDF (33 KB)

What is a Site Walkover?

The site walkover involves a competent and experienced person visiting the site to document visual and olfactory (odour) evidence relating to the site and surrounding area, preferably whilst the site is still active or prior to demolition. This can assist in identifying key areas of potential contamination e.g. above or underground fuel tanks, storage areas, dumped equipment or containers, staining on the ground, smelly or stagnant water, process areas within buildings, informal areas of vehicle maintenance. Walking round the site can assist in identifying potential routes along which contaminants could move such as soakaways, drainage routes, streams, gradient changes and surface run off, ground types, and surface cover. A visit can also identify nearby receptors such as housing, play areas, agricultural land, streams/ rivers/ lakes/ reservoirs/ coast, drainage ditches and sensitive environments.

These reports should be compiled by an experienced and qualified consultant. The Council may not accept site investigation reports if they have not been compiled by a competent person.

Guidance documents that may help with the desk study and site walkover and preliminary risk assessment include:

What is a Site Investigation?

If the desk study and site walkover identify a potential for contaminants to be present then the developer/ applicant will be required to undertake a site investigation, this will need to be documented in a report and sent to the Council for approval.

The site investigation should identify the types and concentrations of contaminants present and how wide and deep the contamination is spread across the site. The site investigation will need to be in accordance with the guidance in British Standard BS 10175:2001 Investigation of potentially contaminated sites – code of practice. The site investigation should seek to confirm information identified in the desk study, site walkover and conceptual model by way of physical investigations such as examination of geological strata, soil sampling, groundwater sampling and monitoring of hazardous gases and vapours. It is recommended that the reasoning behind why samples have been taken from particular areas or why monitoring boreholes have been placed in certain areas is included within the report; this is referred to as a sampling methodology and could be in a tabular format. Samples taken from the site should be appropriately labelled, packaged and sent to laboratories for analysis. It is recommended that laboratories are MCERTS accredited for the analysis being requested. Obtaining good representative sample data is technically complicated and should be left to experienced and qualified consultants. The Council will not accept site investigation reports if they have not been compiled by a competent person.

Guidance documents that may assist with site investigation include:

Does the Council have any requirements for gas or groundwater monitoring?

Gas Monitoring

Hazardous ground gases can result in explosive or asphyxiating conditions if allowed to build up under or within a building or structure. If the desk study and site walkover have identified a potential for hazardous ground gases such as methane, carbon dioxide or toxic volatile compounds then monitoring of the ground gas concentrations and flow rates may be required.

Hazardous ground gases may be present if significant made ground is suspected to be present on site, if the site is on or within 250m of a landfill site, if the site is within or in the vicinity of a former brick/clay/chalk pit or backfilled pond, or if volatile organic chemicals such as petrol, diesel or solvents are suspected on site or on adjacent land. The requirements for monitoring of ground gases such as methane, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide and trace gases are site specific and are dependant upon the gas source and intended development.

Weather conditions as well as gas generation rates and site conditions affect the movement of gas from the ground into buildings. The purpose of gas monitoring is to monitor gas concentrations and flow rates over a range of weather conditions, especially under a worse case weather conditions such as rapidly falling air pressure, rainfall and frost. In order to monitor over such a range of weather conditions monitoring will usually need to be undertaken over a number of months. A one off monitoring event will never be accepted.

As a rough guide the following monitoring periods may apply;

*The requirement for gas monitoring is highly dependant upon the risk associated with the source of the gas and developers and their consultants are strongly advised to refer to current guidance such as CIRIA C665 when determining the gas monitoring requirements for a site.

It will be necessary to demonstrate that regard has been given to best practice guidance. It is recommended that you discuss any gas monitoring proposals with the Contaminated Land Officer.

Guidance documents that may assist with the design and implementation of gas monitoring include:

Validation of Gas Protection Measures.

Once gas investigation has been completed and remedial measures have been designed, guidance on the requirements for the design, installation and validation of gas protection measures PDF (190 KB) will be put in place.

Groundwater Monitoring

If groundwater is present on site and the contaminants on site could pollute the groundwater then monitoring may be required to assess groundwater quality and the presence of any light non aqueous phase liquids (LNAPL) or dense non aqueous phase liquids (DNAPL). In addition it may be necessary to measure and take into account groundwater flow direction (hydraulic head gradient), seasonal fluctuations, presence of any perched water, any abstractions or whether the groundwater is a separate shallow groundwater body or if it is in continuity with a deeper aquifer and whether groundwater is in hydraulic continuity with surface waters.

It is recommended that you discuss groundwater monitoring proposals with the Contaminated Land Officer and the Environment Agency.

Guidance documents that may assist with the design, implementation of groundwater monitoring and interpretation of the results include:

British Standard BS 10175:2001 Investigation of potentially contaminated sites – code of practice.

Environment Agency R&D P20 Methodology for the derivation of remedial targets for soil and groundwater to protect water resources.

Can I take soil and groundwater samples myself?

It is not recommended. Firstly it may expose you and others to health risks. Secondly the Government requires that this work is undertaken by a qualified person who has knowledge, experience and is competent in undertaking such work. Just a few of the issues relating to sampling have been listed below.


What is Risk Assessment?

A risk assessment will be required to assess whether the results of samples for substances on site indicate potential risks to human health, the building fabric, services, the environment and ground and surface waters. This is usually reported in the site investigation report. Statistical manipulation of sample data may be required during the risk assessment phase. Risk assessment can be undertaken at various levels ranging from qualitative risk assessment, generic quantitative risk assessment through to detailed quantitative site specific risk assessments. This is complicated and should be left to experienced and qualified consultants.

Following each stage of investigation and risk assessment the conceptual model should be modified to show only those pollutant linkages of concern.

Guidance documents that may assist with risk assessment include:


What is a Remediation Strategy?

Should unacceptable risks exist, then a remediation strategy shall need to be designed and sent to the Council for approval prior to remedial works being carried out. This should summarise the pollutant linkages of concern and the risks associated with the pollutant linkages. The objectives of remediation should be clearly stated. The strategy should describe the remediation actions that will be necessary to address the risks from contamination, for example gas protection measures within building structures, bioremediation, soil stabilisation, excavation of soil and removal off site, air sparging, pump and treat etc. Dependant upon the remedial actions to be employed, the strategy document should include supporting information such as detailed method statements, plans, specifications, remediation criteria etc. It is recommended that the content is agreed/ discussed with the Contaminated Land Officer.

The remediation strategy should state whether permission is required from other regulatory bodies such as discharge consents, waste management licences or exemptions, mobile treatment licences and any timescales associated with obtaining these permissions.

Dependant upon the degree of risk the Council may require that implementation of the remedial measures are supervised by a competent person. Failure to ensure this may result in problems discharging any planning conditions.

Guidance documents that may assist in developing the remediation strategy include:


What is Validation/ Verification Documentation?

Once remedial actions for a site have been agreed it will be necessary for these to be implemented. Following the implementation of any remedial measures, validation documentation will be required to confirm that the remedial works were carried out in accordance with the submitted remediation strategy. This should summarise the actions that have been taken and provide a statement that the site is considered suitable for its proposed use. The validation documents should include plans indicating any areas where soil has been excavated or imported, the results of any validation sampling (i.e from the base and sides of excavations or samples from bioremediated soil etc), details of imported sub and/or top soil plus accompanying sample results, photographic evidence of each stage of remediation and as built drawings where required for example foundation design showing gas protection measures.

This may be on a whole development scale or on a plot by plot basis. Validation may also be needed for NHBC or building control purposes.

Dependant upon the degree of risk the Council may require that the validation documents are compiled by a competent person.

Guidance documents that may assist with validation reporting include:


Where do I find a consultant to undertake this work?

I recommend obtaining quotes from environmental consultants as listed in Classified Pages of the BT Phone Book, Yellow Pages or on External Hyperlink website.

How do I know if the consultant will do a good job?

There is no certainty that a hired professional will always do a good job for you, but by making yourself more aware of what you want them to do and by asking a few questions it will help you to make sure your money is well spent.


When do I need to submit each stage of the work by?

This will be site specific and it is recommended you discuss this with the Contaminated Land Officer but generally the following will apply:

For sites with known or a high potential for contamination you may need to submit information with the planning application otherwise it may not be possible to determine the application. It is recommended that you arrange pre-application discussions with the Planning Officer and the Contaminated Land Officer.

If your site has been given permission with condition(s) relating to contaminated land then depending upon the wording of the condition it is likely you will be required to submit evidence of the state of the land and its potential risk prior to the commencement of development. Development may include demolition of existing structures or intrusive groundworks.

You will need to allow at least 10 working days following the submission of reports to enable the Contaminated Land Team to review the data and assess whether it is satisfactory. Complex reports may take longer to assess.

If the desk study, site investigation and remediation strategy reports are approved then following commencement of development works you will be required to submit a validation report confirming that the remediation measures have successfully addressed all risks from contamination, this will usually be required prior to the occupation of the dwellings or the buildings being bought into use.

It is recommended that you keep in regular contact with the Contaminated Land Officer throughout the project.

What if the submitted information is deemed to be insufficient?

If information is submitted and it is deemed to be insufficient then you will be informed of why it is considered to be insufficient, and you will be required to submit further information. If you are concerned about this, make sure you contact the Contaminated Land Officer to discuss the proposals before commissioning the work.

What if I start work prior to submitting information required by a condition?

You could face enforcement action based on breach of a condition or you could be required to stop works.

It is strongly advised that all required information is submitted in line with any condition.

This situation can be easily avoided and if you are in any doubt please contact either your Planning Officer or the Contaminated Land Officer.

When will the condition be discharged?

The condition will be discharged when all of the required information has been submitted and is considered to be sufficient, and not before.

It may be that validation information will not be available until well into the development stages.

Can I face legal action if I don't submit any of the required information?

If you do not undertake any of the required work you may face enforcement action under a number of different regimes including planning, building control, and part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 External Hyperlink. You may be liable for remediation costs which could require going back on site to undertake sampling and remediation that should have been done during the development. A worse case scenario would be that the development would have to be demolished.

Will land contamination impact anything else in the development?

Possibly! Depending upon what contamination is found on site and depending upon whether it is dealt with properly you may find that it could impact upon:

Helpful documents:

I've found a suspicious substance on site or have uncovered some buried tanks or drums. 

If you or a worker on site find a suspicious substance on site such as oily or stained ground, made ground with ash, car parts, rags, wood or obvious waste materials, highly odourous soil such as rotten eggs, petrol, fuel or solvent type smells or uncover some buried drums, storage containers or tanks, then you will need to take advice from professional consultants to find out if you and your workers, nearby buildings/ residents, watercourses and the new development are at risk, in addition to ensuring that you are not breaching any environmental legislation.  Leaving substances like this in the ground without assessment can expose future residents to harmful substances and can lead to action being taken against you in the future.

Unknown substances can be potentially dangerous and a risk assessment should always be undertaken prior to exposing yourself and others. It is recommended that if it is safe, you make notes detailing what you have found such as the appearance, liquid / solid, any odours, colour variations, depth, approximate quantity etc and if possible take photographs. This documentation will assist you when you speak to consultants and will be essential when proving that the site is suitable for use.

You should also contact the Contaminated Land Officer to inform them of the situation. An officer may wish to visit the site to look at what has been found.

How can I find out if the Council holds any information relating to land contamination?

Previously submitted reports, planning histories and archived files held by the Council may assist when under taking a desk study on a site. The Department of Regulatory Services Contaminated Land Team will undertake a search of the records held in the Department of Regulatory Services to check what information is held by the Council for a fee. This service does not include copies of file data or maps as this may be subject to additional charges. Some information held by the Council can be viewed free of charge at the Council offices. To make enquiries about this service and whether it would be of use, or to make an appointment to view information, please contact the Contaminated Land Officer or email

The payment of the required fee plus a plan showing the boundary of the site is required before the search will be undertaken.

How can I find out more about land contamination?

To find out more about contaminated land you can view the DEFRA website External Hyperlink and/or the Environment Agency website External Hyperlink.

Glossary / Definitions

Air Sparging - A remedial technology that reduces concentrations of particular contaminants that are stuck to the surface of soils and dissolved in groundwater.

Bioremediation - A remedial technology that mixes bacteria and nutrients with soil and creates favourable conditions (temperature, oxygen levels) that help the bacteria to grow and breakdown contaminants.

Conceptual Model - A representation of the characteristics of the site in a diagrammatic or written form that shows the possible relationships between contaminants, pathways and receptors.

Contaminant - A hazardous substance has the potential to cause harm or to cause pollution of controlled waters.

Controlled waters - Defined by the Water Resources Act 1991, part III, section 104, which includes all groundwater, inland waters, estuaries and coastal water to three nautical miles from the shore.

Desk Study - Collation and interpretation of historical, archival and current information to establish where previous activities were located, and where areas or zones that contain distinct and different types of contamination may be expected to occur, and to understand the environmental setting of the site in terms of pathways and receptors.

Detailed Quantitative Risk Assessment - Risk Assessment carried out using detailed site specific information to estimate risk or to develop site specific assessment criteria.

DNAPL - Dense non aqueous phase liquid. A liquid that is denser than water and does not readily dissolve in water.

Excavation and Removal - Commonly referred to as dig and dump, this is a method of remediation whereby contaminated soils are dug out and removed from site usually to landfill.

Generic Quantitative Assessment - Risk assessment carried out using generic assumptions to estimate risk or to develop generic assessment criteria. Generic assessment criteria should be derived and published by an author.

Ground Gas - A combination of methane, carbon dioxide and oxygen plus trace gases, that are generally present as a result of breakdown or organic matter, chemicals or natural geological strata.

Groundwater - Water beneath the surface of the earth which saturates the pores and fractures of sand, gravel, and rock formations.

Hazard - A property or situation that in particular circumstances could lead to harm or pollution.

Harm - Harm to the health of living organisms or other interference with the ecological systems of which they form part and, in the case of man, includes harm to his property.

Hydrogeology - The science dealing with the physical, chemical and biological properties of groundwater with particular emphasis on the relationship with geology.

LNAPL - (Light non aqueous phase liquid). A liquid that is lighter than water and does not readily dissolve in water.

Made Ground - Any soil that is not natural to a site. Man made ground, this usually refers to soil or mixes of soil which may include other material such as wood, glass, plastic, ceramic, brick, tile that has been imported onto a site.

MCERTS - The monitoring certification scheme is a quality assurance scheme for providers of monitoring services, equipment and systems, that is administered by the Environment Agency and accredited by UKAS.

Pathway - A route or means by which a receptor could be, or is exposed to, or affected by a contaminant.

Perched Water - Unconfined groundwater held above the water table by a layer of impermeable rock or sediment.

Pollutant Linkage - The relationship between a contaminant, pathway and receptor. E.g. arsenic – ingestion – 0-6 year old child.

Pump and Treat - A remediation method based on pumping out contaminated groundwater and passing it through a treatment system to remove or reduce the contaminants.

Receptor - Something that could be affected by a contaminant such as people, environment, water, property.

Remediation - Action taken to prevent or minimise, or remedy or mitigate the effects of any identified unacceptable risks.

Remediation Criteria - Measures (usually but not necessarily, expressed in numerical terms) against which compliance with remediation objectives will be assessed.

Remediation Objective - A site specific objective that relates solely to the reduction or control of the risks associated with one or more pollutant linkages.

Remediation Strategy - A plan that involves one or more remediation options to reduce or control the risks from all the relevant pollutant linkages.

Risk - A combination of the probability, or frequency of occurrence of a defined hazard and the magnitude of the consequences of the occurrence.

Risk Assessment - The formal process of identifying, assessing and evaluating the health and environmental risks that may be associated with a hazard.

Source – A substance capable of causing harm to health, the environment, pollution of waters or adverse effects upon building materials.

Site Investigation - Process of visiting the site to carry out intrusive and non intrusive investigation aimed at determining geology, hydrogeology and the taking of representative soil, gas and water samples.

Site Reconnaissance - A walkover survey of the site to document visual and olfactory (odour) evidence relating to the site and surrounding area.

Validation Documents - Documentation that provides a complete record of all remediation activities on site including photographic evidence, as built drawing of gas protection measures, plans, validation sampling.

Back to top of page Back to Top How to get here RSS Feeds