What is contaminated land? - Luton Council

Throughout the UK, there are many sites where land has become contaminated by industry, chemical and oil spills and the dumping of waste.

What is contaminated land?
Contaminated land is land where substances in or under the land make it actually or potentially hazardous to people’s health, or hazardous to the environment.

What is the legal definition of contaminated land?
Contaminated land is defined by Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as:

 “land which appears to the local authority in whose area it is situated to be in such a condition, by reason of substances in, on or under the land, that;

  • significant harm is being caused or there is a significant possibility of such harm being caused; or
  • pollution of controlled waters is being, or is likely to be, caused."

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

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. However, owners and occupiers of domestic properties are not usually liable for these costs.

What is the Council doing about contaminated land?
When a site is to be redeveloped, the previous use of the land is investigated using historical maps and information from trade directories.

If the site has a history of activities which may have contaminated the land, the council will require the developer to carry out an investigation and where necessary clean-up the land to a standard that makes it suitable for it's new use. 

A technical guide for planning applicants and developers available to download below.

What information does the council have about contaminated land?
We are often asked by purchasers and their legal representatives if there is any contaminated land at a property or site.

If you would like us to search our records and provide a written response, please contact us. A fee is payable.

Has the council formally determined any sites in Luton as 'contaminated land'?
The council has formally determined one site in Luton.  Please click the link below to view the contaminated land register.

Register of contaminated land

Contact info
Environmental health
Luton Borough Council, Town Hall, George Street, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU1 2BQ
Tel: 01582 510330
Fax: 01582 546676
neighbourhooddelivery@luton.gov.uk
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