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Land pollution

Contaminated land inspections, contamination assessments, soil testing, environmental information for a property search, landfills, oil storage tanks, radon, report land pollution.

Has the waste been illegally dumped (fly-tipped)?

What happens next:

If rubbish is building up on someone's property to a point where it is causing a nuisance, or may attract vermin and is in breach of public health laws, the council has powers to issue a notice to get the property cleaned up.  It is an offence not to comply with a notice, and the person can be prosecuted and fined.  

Where the owner or occupier is unwilling or unable to clean up their property, we will arrange for the work to be undertaken and recharge it to them.  Often there may be welfare issues when the occupier can no longer look after the property, and cases often involve the council’s social and housing services, as well as environmental control.

In some cases untidy properties are dealt with through planning legislation, and will be investigated by our planning enforcement team.

Does the council inspect contaminated land?

The council has a duty to identify and inspect land which may be contaminated, for example, due to some previous industrial use, and decide whether it is suitable for its current use. For some plots of land, this may only need a brief study to be done, but for other sites it may require a more detailed assessment and testing to be carried out. 

Due to the large number of potentially contaminated sites, the council’s inspection strategy will focus on the top priority sites where there is the greatest risk to public health and the environment. 

A copy of the council's inspection strategy for contaminated land is available:

Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy 2013 (402kb)

The public register for contaminated land lists those sites which have been formally determined as part of this inspection process, and where remediation action has been carried out.  

Who is responsible for cleaning up contaminated land?

Where a problem is identified, it may be necessary to clean up the land to make it suitable for use (this is known as remediation). Most contaminated land will be remediated voluntarily as part of the planning process, when the land is redeveloped, and the council will often use planning conditions to make sure this is done properly (please refer to information below on  planning guidance).

However, where no voluntary action has been proposed, and the council has identified contaminated land, the general principle is that the polluter pays for the clean-up. Unfortunately in some cases the original polluter cannot be traced and so the current owner or occupier may be liable. The process of determining liability is complex, but more information is provided in our  Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy.

Will the council test the soil at my property?

The council will only undertake soil sampling as part of its duties for investigating contaminated land and this will be done in accordance with our inspection strategy.  

We will not undertake sampling upon request unless there is a reason to suspect there could be a significant risk from contamination.

If you wish to engage a contaminated land specialist to investigate your property, you can search the following online directories for contaminated land consultants and contractors, or use other local directories and internet searches:

The council cannot make any specific recommendations, but you are advised to discuss your particular requirements and to check that the company is competent and suitably qualified to carry out the work.  You are also advised to get more than one quote for comparison.

Can you provide environmental information for a property search?

Yes, information can be provided for individual properties or larger areas of land.  

We offer two types of information services:

Please note:  these information services do not cover wildlife and conservation or coastline issues. You can access flooding and other environmental issues on the Environment Agency website.

Environmental enquiry report on land contamination issues

What is it and who is it for?

These reports show current and previous land use, which has the potential to cause contamination, within a given search area.  The report comes with a cover letter which describes our approach for dealing with contaminated land, including how we’ve gone about identifying, prioritising and inspecting sites.

We usually receive requests for information from solicitors, estate agents, consultants and land owners, when property or land is bought and sold.  In some cases, an environmental search has already been carried out, which recommends asking for more detailed information from the council.   

How much does it cost?

An Environmental Enquiry Report costs £85.00.

We may also be able to provide other environmental information with the report, at no extra cost.  Please specify these requirements when ordering.

Please note: under the Environmental Information Regulations, the council must provide certain information if requested, but we can also make a reasonable charge for doing so. Read more about the Environmental Information Regulations on the Information Commissioners website.

How can I order a report?

Order an environmental enquiry report

Please note: requests can usually be responded to within 5 working days, although some complex enquiries may take longer. 

Other information about pollution

What can you provide and who is it for?

We can provide other information on pollution and environmental health issues, such as noise and air quality.

As well as providing information to professionals who are involved with property or land sales, we also deal with enquiries from residents and other groups who may be interested in information about their local area.

How much does it cost?

If there is a charge, this will be based on our hourly rate of £37.79.  We will confirm the charge, timescales and your preferred method of payment before carrying out the search.  You can pay by credit or debit card over the telephone, or if you are a business customer, we can issue an invoice. 

Please note: under the Environmental Information Regulations, the council must provide certain information if requested, but we can also make a reasonable charge for doing so. Read more about the Environmental Information Regulations on the Information Commissioners website

How do I request information on pollution?

Request other information on pollution

Please note: requests can usually be responded to within 5 working days, although some complex enquiries may take longer.  

Further advice

If you are not sure what you need and would like to discuss this, please get in touch: 

Email: pollution.control@eastriding.gov.uk

Tel: (01482) 396301  

How do I prevent pollution from my oil storage tank?

Any oil storage, such as tanks containing heating oil, diesel and waste oil, should be routinely checked and maintained to avoid the risk of causing pollution, through leaks and spills.  For larger oil storage on commercial sites, the tank may also need to comply with the Oil Storage Regulations.  It is always a good idea to keep your domestic heating oil tank in good condition, and ideally it should be properly bunded (contained within a sealed area or unit), so that in the event of a leak, the oil will not soak away into the ground. Autumn is a good time to check your oil tank and the Environment Agency provide useful advice for homeowners:

GOV.UK - Now's the time to check your oil tank website 

Oil leaks can cause a great deal of damage to your property and the wider environment and can be very costly to clean up. As the owner you may be liable and even face prosecution if the oil pollutes groundwater or a nearby river. You may wish to check with your home or business insurance policy to make sure you are covered for such incidents.

The Environment Agency have produced further guidance on oil storage in the following leaflets:

Oil storage advice leaflet (205kb)

Pollution Prevention Guidelines (274kb)

A list of accredited contractors who can give specialist advice and assistance for cleaning up oil and chemical spillages is available from the UK Spill Association:

UK Spill contractors website

Who regulates landfills and other waste sites?

The Environment Agency regulate most waste management activities, and you are advised to contact them for specific advice on 03708 506 506. Burying or disposing of waste without the correct permit is generally not allowed, however some activities are exempt. More information is available on the GOV.UK website: 

GOV.UK - Operating a landfill site 

Failure to notify the Environment Agency or obtain the correct waste permit may result in enforcement action. Also if the waste leads to pollution of land or water the operator may be liable for the cost of cleaning this up.  It is likely that any new waste activity will require planning permission from the council.

You can find the location of landfill sites and other potentially contaminated land in your local area by using our environmental enquiry service.

What about businesses who might be causing environmental damage?

The council has powers under the environmental damage regulations to take enforcement action against businesses who have caused serious harm to the environment, for example due to a fuel leak or chemical release.  We also regulate industry through environmental permits.

Read more about the environmental damage regulations on the GOV.UK website.

What is radon and how do I know if my property is affected?

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas which enters buildings from the ground, and can cause lung cancer.  Buildings in some areas may have a higher probability of being affected by radon, due to the geology of the area, but even in these areas most homes have low levels of radon.

Current building regulations mean that new buildings in radon-affected areas may need protection measures. 

The UK radon website offers more information and guidance about radon affected areas:

UK radon website 

Do I need to do a contamination assessment as part of my planning application?

Where development is proposed on a site that is

  • known to be contaminated, or
  • where contamination is likely to be present because of its existing or previous use (see the council’s environmental enquiry service ), and/or
  • where a use is proposed that is particularly vulnerable to contamination (for example, housing)

a land contamination assessment must be submitted with the planning application.  A lack of sufficient information with your application may lead to delays. 

For small scale residential development on land with no previous industrial use, this screening assessment should be submitted with your planning application:

Screening assessment form for land affected by contamination (44kb)

Further guidance on what previous uses may have caused contamination and what information is required through the planning process is available in the following document:

YALPAG Technical Guidance - Development on land affected by contamination (1mb)

Where a site is affected by contamination, the responsibility for securing a safe development rests with the developer and/or landowner.  However, it is strongly recommended that you seek appropriate professional advice if you intend to develop land which may be affected by contamination. 

An adequate site investigation must be undertaken by competent persons (with a recognised relevant qualification, sufficient relevant experience and membership of a relevant professional body). 

You can search for contaminated land specialists using the following online directories:

ENDS directory of environmental consultants website

AGS directory of geoenvironmental specialists website

What other guidance is available for developing land where contamination may be a problem?

In addition to the planning guidance document above, there is technical guidance available on verification requirements for cover systems and gas protection systems, which are often used to remediate contaminated sites when they are redeveloped:

YALPAG Technical Guidance - Verification requirements for cover systems (1.7mb)

YALPAG Technical Guidance - Verification requirements for gas protection systems (4.4mb)

Further advice and guidance on assessing and remediating contaminated land is available on the GOV.UK website:

GOV.UK - Environment Agency - Guiding principles for land contamination

GOV.UK - Model Procedures for the management of land contamination

The government's National Planning Policy Framework sets out the broad objectives and requirements of the planning system, including policies for land contamination: 

Read more about the National planning policy framework on the GOV.UK website

There is also National planning practice guidance on land affected by contamination on the GOV.UK website