Contaminated land is dealt with in two main ways:
- planning process (under the Town and Country Planning Act)
- contaminated land regime (under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act)
Initially, contamination or the potential for contamination is considered during the planning process. If a site is not being redeveloped but is causing or has the potential to cause significant harm, then the contaminated land regime will come into effect.
The majority of sites are dealt with through the planning process as opposed to being determined under the Part 2A regime, with Part 2A being applied to problem sites identified by local authorities using a risk prioritisation process.
Local authorities can place conditions on planning permissions requiring that developers investigate contamination and, where it's found, clean it up to prevent harm.