Contaminated land refers to places where previous uses of the
land (which may have been considered perfectly legal and acceptable
at the time when they occurred), have led to pollution of the soil.
Examples include the dumping of chemicals or waste, or the toxic
by-products of mining and extraction industries. Such pollution may
be impossible to remove completely, and can persist for centuries,
so that, although such activities are now tightly controlled, we
still have to cope with the legacy. This may constitute a threat to
the health of people using the land, damage to buildings and/or
services, and potentially wider environmental risks, such as
contamination of water supplies through the leaching of toxic
The Environment Act 1995 places duties on Local Authorities to
carry out certain tests to determine whether land is contaminated.
A key feature of the tests is that the land must be affecting, or
likely to affect, a vulnerable receptor. Receptors can be human
beings, ecological systems, ground waters or property. There must
also be a means by which contamination, or the effects of it, can
travel to the receptor. Land is then assessed according to the risk
it presents to the receptor. Further investigation, monitoring or
remediation may then be appropriate. The Local Authority is
responsible for agreeing the most appropriate action and ensuring
it is taken.
Bedford Borough Council’s approach to contaminated land is set out
in a strategy which was published in July 2001. More
information about the strategy and current progress can be obtained
from the Pollution Control Section.
Closed landfill sites have been monitored for levels of methane and
carbon dioxide as part of the Council’s responsibilities under the
Environmental Protection Act 1990, to identify nuisances and risk
to public health. Activities at the operative landfill sites in the
district are also followed, although the main responsibility for
control of these sites rests with the Environment Agency.
here to download Contaminated Land