Contaminated Land and Planning

Contaminated Land and Planning 

The actual or possible presence of contamination is a material planning consideration, as outlined in PPS23: Planning and Pollution Control. The document states that the assessment of risk should be carried out by the applicant before the planning application is determined. Any existing or new unacceptable risks should be identified and proposals made to deal with them effectively as part of the development process.


When a planning application is submitted for a site that may be contaminated, the planning officer will consult with the Environmental Improvement Department, who regulate and advise on contaminated land issues. The application will be assessed and, if necessary, recommendations will be made that certain conditions are imposed upon the development. This usually takes the form of a contaminated land condition which may require, for example, a site investigation to be carried out by an appropriately qualified consultant in order to identify potential risks to site workers, intended end users and the environment.


There are a range of possible outcomes for planning applications on potentially contaminated sites:


  • Approval without conditions

  • Approved with conditions requiring certain information to be provided and possibly remediation and validation works to be undertaken in order to discharge the contaminated land condition

  • Refused


It is essential that the applicant and their agents provide as much information to the local planning authority (LPA) as possible at every stage of the planning process. Failure to provide information, however trivial, may cause a delay to the application. The onus is on the applicant to keep the LPA well informed about the development at all times. This will ensure that decisions can be made swiftly and the application process completed as quickly as possible.


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