The Environmental Protection Act 1990, part 11A, requires that all local authorities inspect their areas for the purpose of identifying contaminated land. Stratford-on-Avon District Council adopted a strategy in 2001 setting out how it would undertake this task and in what timescale.

There are four possible grounds that determine if land is contaminated:

  1. Significant harm is being caused.
  2. There is significant possibility of significant harm being caused.
  3. Pollution of controlled waters is being caused.
  4. Pollution of controlled waters is likely to be caused.

Some typical uses of land in our area with potential for causing contamination are:

  • landfills
  • gasworks
  • filling stations
  • scrap yards
  • agriculture - storage and use of chemicals
  • industry

Contaminated Land Guidance for Developers

When land is contaminated it might pose a risk to the environment or people. Some of the common causes of contamination are:

  • previous industrial use
  • use of contaminated materials as infill
  • high levels of naturally occurring contamination such as radon, methane or arsenic

The potential risks of contaminated land need to be taken into account when planning a development since contamination is a material planning consideration. Most potentially contaminated sites can be developed without risk of harm to people or the environment if they are cleaned up.

What To Do if You Are Planning on Developing a Site

A Phase I Desk Study report must be submitted with the planning application if:

  • there is reason to suspect that contamination could impact on the proposed development
  • the proposed end use is considered vulnerable for example, residential uses, allotments, schools, nurseries, children's play areas, playing fields

Stratford-on-Avon District Council Environmental Health and Licensing team have adopted technical guidance documents produced by YALPAG (Yorkshire and Lancashire Pollution Advisory Group) to assist developers, landowners and consultants.

The Investigation, Assessment and Clean-Up of Land Contamination

This helpful document specifies what information should be submitted to the Local Planning Authority. All aspects of investigations into possible land contamination should follow the guidelines within Land Contamination: Risk Management (Environment Agency, 2020), in line with current best practice. Failure to comply with this guidance is likely to result in delays in your planning application being processed or in your planning application being refused.

When considering remediation of a site you may also need to show you have taken appropriate steps to protect people from contamination by using gas protection systems or using a cover system consisting of imported or reused soils. The following notes can help with this:

Verification Requirements for Cover Systems

This technical guidance has been produced to help developers ensure that they can demonstrate that material brought onto a development site for gardens or areas of soft landscaping are suitable for use and do not present harm to people, the environment and/or property.

Verification Requirements for Gas Protection Systems

This guidance has been produced to help developers ensure that they can demonstrate that gas protection systems are appropriate for the development and level of risk associated with a site and that they have been installed correctly.

YALPAG aim to review this guidance every three years, but readers must note that legislation, guidance and practical methods are inevitably subject to change and therefore should be aware of current UK policy and best practice. These guidance notes should be read in conjunction with prevailing legislation and guidance, as amended, whether mentioned here or not. Where legislation and documents are summarised this is for general advice and convenience, and must not be relied upon as a comprehensive or authoritative interpretation. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the person/company involved in the development or assessment of land to apply up-to-date working practices to determine the contamination status of a site and the remediation and verification requirements.

Rogers Review

Stratford-on-Avon District Council took the decision to downgrade its approach to contaminated land in light of both the 2007 Rogers Review and the subsequent Audit Commission decision to remove the requirement for investigation of potentially contaminated land from the Government's national indicator system.

The Rogers Review was carried out in 2007 to set the national enforcement priorities for local authorities; among its many recommendations was that investigating potentially contaminated land was not a national consideration.

The council continues to:

  • recommend full site investigation as appropriate at planning application stage for new development
  • provide advice on request
  • respond to specific enquiries about sites

However, the council will not, in the foreseeable future, carry out any proactive site investigations.


Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas, found in small amounts in all rock and soil. Radon seeps out of the ground and can collect in enclosed spaces such as buildings through floors.

Most buildings have low levels of radon that aren't a problem and if levels are high they can usually be reduced for a reasonable cost.

The UKHSA are the UK's primary experts on radiation protection, represents a significant nationwide resource for the public, industry, education, research and medicine and is the primary resource for advice about radon in the UK. The UKHSA advises:

  • homes with radon levels above the Action Level of 200 becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3) should be reduced, preferably to below the Target Level of 100 Bq/m3
  • homes with levels between the Target Level and Action Level should seriously consider reducing their radon level, especially if they are at greater risk, such as if they are or have been smokers.

You can order Radon reports fromUKRadon which will tell you the estimated probability above the action level and measurements kits. UKRadon has extensive Radon and health information.

Heating Oil Spills

Many properties within the district are served by domestic heating oil tanks usually situated in garden areas. Leaks from domestic tanks usually emanate from either the tank, the fittings/valves or the supply line into the property. Leaks can be gradual over time or sudden single events.

The impact of a fuel leak can vary from site to site and in some cases, large spillages of oil can have serious implications for: human health, ground water, surface water and general wildlife. These implications make it imperative for users of heating oil to maintain and monitor the condition of their heating oil tanks.

In the event of a loss of fuel being noted, the following action is recommended (where safe to do so):

  • If the leak is ongoing when you notice it call a heating oil engineer or try and identify the source of the leak and stem the flow if possible and safe to do so
  • Where spilled fuel is on the ground, try to absorb this wherever possible and prevent the spread of spilled fuel
  • Notify your insurer as soon as possible as they will mobilise accredited contractors to respond to the spill
  • Where the leak is continuing, contact your fuel supplier to request they uplift the remaining fuel as quickly as possible
  • If fuel vapours can be smelt in the building open windows for ventilation and contact your GP if you feel unwell
  • If the leak has impacted controlled waters (streams, ponds, lakes or underground water) contact the Environment Agency by calling their free 24-hr emergency pollution hotline on 0800 80 70 60
  • If the drinking water supply has been tainted (tastes or smells of fuel), contact Severn Trent, by calling their emergency helpline 0345 450 9549

Taking action quickly will stop or minimise pollution and will reduce clean up costs. Please be aware that the responsibility for land remediation following a spill ultimately lies with the landowner. The landowner is responsible for incurring costs and contacting the appropriate organisations. Failure to take action could lead to enforcement action against the home or land owner being taken by the Local Authority or Environment Agency under Part 2A of the Environment Protection Act 1990, the Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) (England) Regulations 2015 or the Water Resources Act 1991.

Further information

Certain information relating to regulatory action and remediation, if any, must be kept on a public register.

There is a charge of £105 for searches of the information that we hold on potentially contaminated sites. If you require a report please complete our online form to request this information.

Contact: The Environmental Health team

Last updated on 15/12/2023