Contaminated land

Some land in this country has been contaminated in the past by industries such as:

  • gasworks
  • tanneries
  • chemical works
  • landfill

These are often called brownfield sites, and can be a problem when:

  • there are harmful substances in, on or under the land
  • substances at the site cause water pollution
  • the land is redeveloped for a different use

We do not currently have any sites which are classed as contaminated land, or any sites on a priority list for examination, but we review the situation from time to time. For example:

  • if there are changes to legislation or guidance
  • for sites where there is a proposed change of use
  • if new evidence of actual or possible contamination comes to light
  • if there is a new link between a source of pollution and someone who could be affected by it

What landowners must do

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 covers contaminated land. If you own or occupy contaminated land now, or you did in the past, you may be responsible for cleaning up the pollution. If the land is a hazard to current occupants or neighbours, it must be cleaned up immediately. You may still be responsible for cleaning up the pollution after you have sold the land.

Who pays?

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 they can't be traced, the current owner of the land may become responsible.

Owners and occupiers of domestic properties are not usually liable for these costs.

Re-use of brownfield sites

We will only grant approval for redevelopment if contamination is cleaned up so that the land is suitable for its new use.

You should obtain specialist advice from an environmental consultant or a specialist lawyer before you buy or sell contaminated land. When you buy land in Solihull, the Land Charges department will tell you if a site has been declared 'contaminated land'.

More information on Local Land Charges

What the council must do

We are responsible for enforcing contaminated land legislation. We also:

  • carry out inspections of land that may be contaminated
  • formally declare land contaminated
  • find out who is responsible for putting contamination right
  • agree necessary action and make sure it is done
  • keep a Public Register of contaminated land sites, the action that was required to put the problem right and any legal action that has been taken.

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

If you require a contaminated land search to be carried out at a site location then please contact us for more information.