Both man-made and natural contamination of land has been happening for many years.
In the past, Richmondshire has been home to lead mining, gas works, and landfill sites, all of which have left their mark on the environment.
There are two main routes by which contamination is looked at:
- As part of new developments
- As historic sites
All planning applications have to be considered for potential contamination issues.
As the local planning authority, we'll require the developer to assess the potential for contamination by means of a preliminary risk assessment. A developer may need to do this before seeking planning approval.
If the assessment indicates that the site requires land contamination planning conditions, they may be added if permission is granted.
If you're developing an individual residential property, such as one house in a garden, a screening assessment form can be used as a basic preliminary risk assessment.
It's not suitable for larger housing developments, allotments, schools, nurseries, children’s play areas, or if there's been a past industrial use on or next to the land. In these cases, a phase one preliminary risk assessment would be required.
The Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Pollution Advisory Group (YALPAG) has produced guidance to help developers submit the correct information when developing land.
More information for developers, landowners and consultants
The GOV.UK website has more information on contaminated land.
We generally use a standard condition to ensure the investigation and, where necessary, clean-up of land. But a condition may also be added which means the developer has to report any unexpected contamination found during the course of a development to us and submit proposals for the safe clean-up of the contamination.
The condition may be added even though the preliminary assessment form doesn't highlight any potential areas of concern, especially if the development has a sensitive end use.
It's the developer's responsibility to ensure the land is safe and suitable for use. Only when we're satisfied that this is the case will the conditions be discharged.
Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 aims to ensure that land is suitable for its current use and poses no unacceptable risk to human health or controlled waters. It also considers potential risk to the wider environment.
Councils have a duty to identify areas of contaminated land within their area and where necessary ensure remediation, or clean-up work, is carried out.
As part of this, we've produced a contaminated land strategy detailing how we plan to carry out these duties. The work is ongoing.
To date, no sites in Richmondshire have been classified as "contaminated land," so there are no entries on the public register, which is held by environmental health.
Domestic oil tanks
Contamination of soil and groundwater can happen if your heating oil storage tank leaks or if there's a spillage during refuelling.
To help minimise the risk of pollution, follow these steps:
- Get to know your tank: It’s important you know what type of tank and pipework arrangement you have and how to use it. Your tank supplier or oil delivery company may be able to help
- Check your tank: Check the amount of oil in your tank regularly. Know how much you are using. Always supervise your delivery and discuss delivery procedures with your supply company. Check your tank, pipework and bund for signs of corrosion or degradation, damage, interference and any obvious leaks, signs of distortion or bulging. Secure your tank to reduce the risk of theft resulting in accidental spillage. Get a qualified professional to inspect your tank system at least once a year
- Maintenance and repair: Take action to fix any problems and always use a qualified professional. If you need to replace your tank, get advice from a competent tank installer. Ensure you obtain any necessary planning and building control permissions
If you discover an oil leak or have a spill:
- Deal with it immediately. If you leave it you could cause a serious pollution incident. If you can, stop the flow of oil by closing valves or using material from a spill kit, dry sand or earth to soak up the oil
- Contact the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60 (24 hours) to get advice and help
- Contact your insurance company and tell them that there’s been a leak or spill from your tank or pipework
It’s against the law to cause pollution so you must take action quickly to clean up any serious spill or leak.