Contaminated Land

What we do about contaminated land

  • Publish a  Icon for pdf Contaminated Land Strategy [733.98KB] that states how we identify contaminated sites in our area

  • Carry out more detailed assessments of those sites that are most likely to be contaminated

  • Find out who is responsible for putting the contamination right (remediation) and discusses the problem with them

  • Formally declare land as contaminated

  • Agree the necessary action to remediate the land and makes sure it is done

  • Serve a Remediation Notice where necessary

  • Keep a Icon for pdf Contaminated Land Public Register [632.1KB] which includes both a record of regulatory action taken by the council in respect of remediation of contaminated land and a record of sites which have been designated special sites. It should be noted that the Register is not intended to be a list of sites that are, have been or may be contaminated and that all Local Authorities encourage voluntary remediation of land wherever possible in line with the contaminated land regime.

In some cases the Environment Agency may take over the regulation of a site from us, once it has been declared as 'contaminated land'.

Assessing whether contamination really exists

One of the key elements of assessing whether a site is contaminated is establishing whether a pollutant linkage exists. This consists of:

  • Source - a contaminant which exists in, on or under the site.

  • Pathway - a means by which the contaminant can reach a receptor.

  • Receptor - someone or something, which could be affected by the contaminant (e.g. a human being, water resource, building).

If a viable pollutant linkage exists (source-pathway-receptor is present) then an assessment of potential risk to the receptor(s) needs to be carried out.

Please see the following website for more information:

Action required and who pays?

If you own or occupy contaminated land now or you did in the past, you may be responsible for cleaning up the contamination. You may still be responsible for remediating the contamination after you have sold the land.

Some contamination can be a hazard to current occupants or neighbours and the law says the problem must be rectified.

The law follows the 'polluter pays' principle - the person or organisation that caused or permitted the contamination must pay to have it put right. If that person or organisation is not known, then the current owner of the land may become responsible.

Domestic Heating Oil Leaks

A common cause of contamination for domestic properties is heating oil leaks.  An Icon for pdf advice leaflet [1.37MB] has been produced on how to prevent such leaks and what action to take if one occurs.

Land Contamination and Planning

Land contamination is a material planning consideration. This means that any potentially contaminated land passing through the planning process should be dealt with ensuring that there are no further risks to the future occupiers or wider environment from this land. It is the developer's responsibility to ensure a safe development as laid out in Icon for pdf Planning and Pollution in Norfolk [863.35KB] and accompanying Icon for pdf Development on Land Affected by Contamination [994.64KB]  The responsibility is on the developer to disclose information on contamination. Where there is the potential for contamination to be present or the proposed use would be particularly vulnerable to contamination, (such as housing, schools etc), the council will require as a minimum a desk study and walkover report to be submitted at the time of the initial application. The level of information needed will depend on the circumstances of the site and the nature of the proposed use. Please refer to our  Icon for pdf Contaminated Land Planning Advice Note [1.0MB]  for details.

Breckland Council is mindful of the potential cost implications of producing a desk study and for certain situations have produced questionnaires in order to assist in identifying whether a more formal desk study is necessary. At present there are two questionnaires, one in relation to Icon for pdf past agricultural use [484.91KB]  and one in relation to Icon for pdf particularly vulnerable end uses [485.64KB] . Please see our  Icon for pdf Contaminated Land Planning Advice Note [1.0MB]  for when these questionnaires apply.

Please note that wherever there is a reference in the advice note to 'Planning Policy Statement 23' please substitute 'Planning and Pollution in Norfolk' and wherever there is a reference in the advice note to Annex 2  Development of Land Affected by Contamination' please substitute 'Technical Guidance: Development on Land Affected by Contamination'.

Planning Advice Leaflets

Icon for pdf Land Contamination Reports Advice for Consultants and Developers (Technical) [1.98MB]

Icon for pdf Contaminated Land Information from Anglian Water [709.25KB]

Contamination and Building Regulations

If the development requires a Building Regulations permission, practical guidance with regards to these regulations and contamination is laid out in Contamination and Building Regulations approved documents

Ground Gas Protection Measures

If your development requires gas protection measures you may wish to refer to our leaflet  Icon for pdf Ground Gas Protection Measures - frequently asked questions [292.74KB] .

For further information you can contact Breckland's Contaminated Land Officer on 01362 656870 or email

You can find further useful information and downloads from the Planning Portal Website

Re-use of 'brownfield' sites

A brownfield site can be any site which has had a past use but industrial use is the most relevant to contamination issues. The approval of an application for redevelopment of these sites will only be granted on condition that the contamination is cleaned up to a standard that makes it fit for the new use of the land.

Buying or selling land

You should obtain specialist advice before buying or selling contaminated land. When you buy land in Breckland, the Land Charges department will be able to tell you if a site has been declared 'contaminated land' under the strict legal definition. In addition it is advisable to search other relevant sources of information to find out the history of the site and look for potential sources of contamination.  Further advice can be found in our leaflet  Icon for pdf House Sales and Contaminated Land [77.57KB]  .

For further information you can contact Breckland's Contaminated Land Officer -  Report an Environmental Health Issue

You can find further useful information and downloads from the Planning Portal Website

How To Make An Enquiry About Land Ownership

Researching our data is mostly a free service. To help us to assist, it is normally very helpful if you can have as much information about the property that you are interested in as possible. This is especially true for pieces of land that may not have a recognisable address.

Ideally we require an exact address to include property name or number, road or street name, locality/village and postal town. A sketch plan of the location of the property in question is also equally useful. Having this kind of detail will make it easier, and quicker, to respond to your enquiry.

For more information please view the Icon for pdf House Sales and Contaminated Land [77.57KB]