Contaminated Land

The cathedral town of Winchester is the former capital of England and has played an important part in the country’s history. In addition to this cultural heritage, the geological and hydrological characteristics of the district lend themselves for agricultural use, recreation and tourism as well as providing a significant groundwater resource. It is important these significant resources and the character of the district are protected.

Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 came into force on 1 April 2000. This places a responsibility on local authorities to inspect land in its district to identify contaminated land.

Contaminated land is defined within section 78A(2) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as:

‘any 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 –
a) significant harm is being caused or there is a significant possibility of such harm being caused; or
b) pollution of controlled waters is being, or is likely to be, caused’

The associated statutory guidance expands on this definition and introduces the requirement for a pollutant linkage comprising a contaminant, a receptor and a pathway to exist.

In accordance with this, Winchester City Council has been collating information on the location of potential sources of contamination within the district. These include;

  • Numerous sites where small scale chalk, sand and gravel extraction has taken place and the resultant pits may have been filled in with waste materials.
  • Current and historic military activities including engineering works, vehicle depots, aircraft manufacturing, armament activities, radioactive materials use and storage.
  • Current and historic industrial activities including timber treatment works, engineering works, road vehicle fuelling, service and repair, sewage works.
  • Current and disused railways, sidings and goods yards.
  • Generation, storage and distribution of power including gas works, electricity transformers and sub-stations.
  • Agricultural uses including chemical storage (pesticides / fertilisers), farm machinery storage, maintenance and repair, fuel storage, unlicensed waste disposal including burning and/or burial.
Contaminated Land Strategy

The contaminated land statutory guidance requires the local authority to publish a written strategy setting out the adopted inspection approach. In accordance with this, Winchester City Council published its Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy in January 2002. Following publication of revised statutory guidance in 2012, WCC has produced an updated Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy 2014-2019 that sets out how Winchester City Council will implement the contaminated land regime as required by Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 over the next 5 years. This strategy replaces the Council’s previous strategy (January 2002, version 2) and can be downloaded from the documents section below. Archive copies of the previous strategy can be provided on request.

Contaminated Land Register

In accordance with Section 78R of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the Council is required to maintain a public register, which serves as a permanent record of all regulatory action undertaken to ensure the remediation of any site which has been determined as Contaminated Land. Sites which have been determined as Contaminated Land but where no consequent action has yet been taken will not appear on the register.

It is important to note that this is not a register of sites where contamination is present, or those which are potentially contaminated. Furthermore, it does not include sites that have been identified for detailed inspection or that have already undergone such inspection.

Winchester City Council has not determined any land as contaminated land and as such there are currently no entries on the register.

Contaminated Land Enquiries

In fulfilling its duties under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Winchester City Council holds a considerable amount of data relating to the historic use of land that may give rise to land contamination issues.

Winchester City Council provides a variety of standard searches in response to requests for historic land use information that is required typically in association with property transactions or the redevelopment of land as detailed below:

Informal discussions

The Environmental Protection is able to provide verbal advice regarding information on potentially contaminating land uses on or within the immediate vicinity of a site free of charge.

Part 2A Statement

This Service will provide a written statement that acknowledges any potentially contaminating land uses affecting the site and provides clarification regarding the current status of land in accordance with the provisions set out in Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Please allow 10 working days for completion of this search.

Historic Land Use Enquiry Search

This detailed report is aimed at developers or their consultants who are looking to gain information regarding the history of a site as part of a Phase 1 site assessment; or members of the public or their solicitors looking to gain an understanding of the site history as part of the conveyancing process.

The computer generated report will containing the following information (where such information exists within the search area):

Extracts from all available historic maps annotated with the site boundary and search area – possible map scales include 1:1250, 1:2500, 1:10000, 1:10560.

A summary of the historical land use data collated by Winchester City Council on or within 50m of the site. This includes:

  • potentially contaminative land uses captured from historic maps and historic trade directories;
  • historic wells and pumps
  • licensed petroleum sites
  • authorised industrial processes
  • licensed waste disposal sites
  • scrap metal licences
  • radioactive substance licences
  • pollution incidents

Details of any site reports (including desk studies, site investigations, remedial strategies or validation reports) completed on or within 50m of the site.

This report does not include a detailed review of any identified site reports. Where such information is available, an appointment can be made to view this at a mutually convenient time.

Please allow 10 working days for completion of this search.

Bespoke Search Requests

In the event that additional search information is required please contact the Environmental Health Service to provide a quote and timeframe for completion. Circumstances where this could apply include:

  • Where a search area >50m is required
  • Where a detailed review of site assessment reports is required
Fees and response times

Winchester City Council is currently reviewing its charging policy and as such is not currently charging for contaminated land enquiries. Enquiry responses will be provided in electronic format only. If hard copies of data is required this may be subject to a fee of 10p per page.

Please allow 10 working days from receipt of your enquiry for a response to be issued. If your enquiry is urgent please contact the Environmental Health Service and ask to speak to the contaminated land officer.

Further Information

Please contact the Environmental Health Service on or telephone 01962 840222 ext 2172  if you wish to request historic land use information or require further information regarding the information included within a search.  A search request will need to specify the level of infomration required and acceptance of the associated fee, the full postal address of the site to which the enquiry relates and a map clearly identifying the site boundary.

Searches can also be carried out by one of several national organisations who also offer this service using information taken from national registers. They will also charge a fee. However, information about assessments or investigations carried out by this Directorate will only be available via us.

Contaminated Land Investigations

To assess the level of any contamination, it will be necessary for you to carry out a preliminary desk top study and site investigation.

In most cases contamination on land will only pose a risk if a receptor i.e. a person, animal, building, ecological systems or watercourse is exposed to it. Therefore for land to be declared contaminated there must be a source of pollution and a receptor with a pathway linking the two. This approach is known as a pollutant linkage. Further information on this issue can be downloaded from the DEFRA contaminated land website.

Where land is identified as contaminated land, then the Council is under a duty to require it to be remediated. Where the risk is to a water course then the site may be classified as a special site and enforcement transfers to the Environment Agency. In serving notice and recovering costs the legislation follows the "polluter pays" principle. However, where the polluter cannot be found then the liability may rest with the current landowner.

It is becoming more common for a site investigation to be necessary when Brownfield land (this is mainly industrial/commercial land) is redeveloped. Redeveloping land can result in changes to pathways and receptors resulting in a site being reclassified as contaminated land. In addition remediation through redevelopment is encouraged in planning guidance. This Directorate has therefore prepared brief guidance for developers to assist them in preparing a desk top study and site investigation, which can be downloaded from this page (see documents below)

Investigation work may include the sinking of boreholes, excavation of trial pits, soil and groundwater analysis, risk assessments and the formulation of a remediation strategy. This is specialist work and will require the assistance of a consultant in contaminated land.

Useful information Sites

Construction Industry Research and Information Association.
CIRIA is a UK-based research association concerned with improving the performance of all involved in construction and the environment. It contains some useful information about contaminated land.

Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
The professional organisation for Environmental Health Officers. It contains news on legislation and the profession

The Environment Agency
The leading public body for protecting air, land and water and improving the environment in England and Wales.