Land can be affected by contamination in the form of chemicals or gases in the soil and/or water, buildings, or other material on a site. Such sites are likely to be brownfield sites i.e. those which have been previously developed, often for commercial or industrial use, however sites where there has been historical mining may also have some contamination present.
As many developments are carried out on brownfield sites it is possible that some developments will take place on potentially contaminated sites. It is essential to ensure that potential contamination is adequately dealt with upon a change of land use, thereby ensuring the land is made suitable for its new use and presents no danger to the health and safety of people who come into contact with it. In some cases certain types of development (which are likely to be the most sensitive types e.g. housing) may not be suitable for sites with a certain type of contamination. In such cases the site may be better developed for another type of use, e.g. commercial or industrial.
For those developments in areas of historical metal mining there is the potential for contamination issues as a result of this historical land use. Historical metal mining can cause elevated heavy metals to be present within the soil and it is possible that such contamination may occur some distance from mining sites themselves. The Council takes a precautionary approach for developments in these types of areas.
Where developments are within 250m of a former landfill site they are considered to be within influencing distance of potential gas migration. Again, the Council takes a precautionary approach for developments in these types of areas and will condition applications accordingly.
The Council will consult with external stakeholders such as Environment Agency Wales on particular issues such as those sites that may impact controlled waters.
The Development Control section within the Planning Department currently consults the Contaminated Land Team on potential land contamination issues of proposed developments when a planning application is received.
Planning applications, particularly those with a potentially sensitive end use, are checked with regards to the presence of potential land contamination on or within influencing distance of the proposed development site. For these proposed developments, where advised by the Contaminated Land Team (based on the limited information available to them), the Planning Department will require the Developers through the means of a Planning Condition on the Planning Permission to satisfy the Council that the presence of any contamination has been adequately assessed and subsequently ensure that the land is suitable (or made so) for the proposed new use in accordance with recognised standards. In extreme cases, planning permission may have to be refused or the application put on hold whilst further investigations take place.
It is a statutory requirement to comply with a Planning Condition.
Where, for example, a development is adjacent to a petrol filling station or is a barn conversion, the Contaminated Land Team will recommend to the Planning Department that an advisory note is placed on a planning permission. This Note is there to advise the developer that if they find any unexpected contamination to contact the Contaminated Land Team for further guidance.
Over a seven year period, statutory measures have been put in place which will ensure that any land contamination issues are dealt with on many sites within the County Borough. The table below details the number of conditions and note to applicants that have been recommended by the Contaminated Land Team to the Planning Department.
|Year||Number of Applications Requiring Assessment by the Contaminated Land Team (% of total number applications received)||Total Number of Conditions Requested by Contaminated Land Team*||Total Number of Note to Applicants Requested by Contaminated Land Team||Total Number of No Comments|
* conditions requested have not been counted twice where multiple applications have been submitted for the same siteBack to top of page
There are many authoritative guidance documents available to aide Developers and their Environmental Consultants on how to carry out contamination assessments. The Developers Guide (available to download below) draws many of these documents together and advises how to undertake a contamination assessment through the planning regime. Please note that this document is now four years old and does not therefore take into consideration more recent guidance.
Please find below examples of the type of guidance documents that should be consulted during a contamination assessment.
This is NOT an exhaustive list, the Developers Guide has a list of further guidance available and new guidance is constantly being published.
At present there is no TAN (Welsh) equivalent to the planning guidance PPS23 (English), however the Contaminated Land Team considers PPS23 to be useful guidance that could be referred to.
The Council has prepared a Local Planning Guidance Note ‘No 23 – Development of Sites with Land Contamination’ and have adopted the ‘WLGA/WAG/EAW Land Contamination – A Guide for Developers’.
A copy of the document can be downloaded in the following format:
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