Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy

4. PROCEDURES

This section sets out the manner in which B&NES Council is to undertake the inspection of the district, and the resources to be utilised in obtaining the relevant information.

The programme for inspection will develop into a ‘rolling programme’, by which formal inspections of potentially contaminated sites can commence in one area whilst information gathering continues to be carried out for others.

4.1 Ensuring Compliance with Statutory Guidance

The Local Authority will seek to implement its regulatory duties by informal consultation requiring voluntary action, prior to taking enforcement proceedings. A voluntary resolution of contaminated land issues benefits both the appropriate persons and the Local Authority, as:

* actions will be agreed and implemented in a shorter timespan, minimising any impact upon environmental receptors;

* legal proceedings with the associated costs and time implications may be avoided;

* the stigma associated with legal proceedings to remedy ground contamination will be avoided; and

* the appropriate person may retain eligibility for landfill tax exemption on contaminated soils removed during the remediation process.

Landowners or occupiers who wish to voluntarily provide the information to be sought by a detailed inspection will be provided with advice from the Contaminated Land Officer relating to the inspection objectives.

In the event that a voluntary approach fails, the Council will be required to exercise an inspection using statutory powers of entry, as detailed in Section 4.7: Statutory Powers of Entry.

4.2 Inspection of the District

The District will be inspected according to the receptor and land use prioritisation criteria detailed in Table 4.1. The inspection will begin with the areas of the District most densely populated; Bath, the Norton Radstock and Keynsham Saltford areas, and will then assess the remaining rural areas. The timetable for the inspection process is included in Appendix K: Timetable for the Strategy Implementation.

Priorities

The Council’s priorities in dealing with contaminated land will be to protect receptors by identifying where they interact with certain land use types, as illustrated in Table 4.1. This list is presented in priority order and in all cases will have regard to significance and likelihood, as required by the Regulations.

Receptors Land Use Types
Human beings
  • Allotments
  • Residential with gardens
  • Schools and nurseries
  • Residential without gardens
  • Recreation/Parks, Playing Fields, Open Space
  • Elderly persons homes
  • Commercial/Industrial
Controlled Waters
  • Source Protection Zones
  • Drinking water abstractions
  • Groundwater – Private Abstractions
  • Groundwater – Major Aquifers
  • Surface waters
Property in the following forms: crops, livestock, home-grown produce, owned or domesticated animals, wild animals subject to shooting or fishing rights
  • Allotments and gardens
  • Agricultural land
  • Forestry areas
  • Other open spaces, public rights of way, rivers, lakes etc
Ecological systems or living organisms forming part of a system within protected locations
  • SSSIs
  • Ramsar sites
  • Areas of special protection for birds
  • European sites (SACs, SPAs, candidate SACs and SPAs)
  • National nature reserves
  • Marine nature reserves
  • Nature reserves
  • SNCIs
  • Wildlife corridors etc
Property in the form of buildings
  • Ancient Monuments Buildings

Table 4.1: Potentially sensitive receptors (Source: [4])

4.2.1  Phase 1 - Initial Inspection

Step 1 of the initial phase of the inspection of the district will involve information collection on past land uses and the proximity of those areas to potentially sensitive receptors. The past use of a site will be categorised depending on how severe the potential for contamination is. The list provided in Appendix J: Potentially Contaminative Industries, will be used during this stage. In addition, anecdotal information gathering will take place through consultation exercises involving the general public, parish and town councils, and other relevant organisations.

Step 2 will entail a judgement being carried out in order to determine the prioritisation of sites according to the receptor sensitivity and the severity of contaminants. The priority order of receptors, as detailed in Table 4.1, will be utilised in this determination.

Step 3 will involve a prioritisation of site investigations to be carried out; this will be as a direct result of the procedure taken in Step 2.

Controlled Waters

The local authority is advised to consult with the Environment Agency prior to determination of contaminated land and during consideration of whether pollution of controlled waters is being or is likely to be caused. The Agency has the experience and knowledge associated with handling incidents of pollution of controlled waters as well as information on contamination issues. As a result, the Council will liaise with the Agency on issues concerning controlled waters under this regime and, where appropriate, request site-specific guidance[3].

[3] Consistent with section 78V of the EPA 1990.

4.2.2 Phase 2 - Detailed Inspection

Where the initial inspection identifies one or more potentially significant pollutant linkages, a detailed inspection will be carried out in the order of priority defined in Step 3 of Phase 1. External organisations and other regulatory authorities will be consulted as is appropriate.

A desk study will be carried out as part of the detailed inspection; this entails examining documentary information (including that stored electronically) to ascertain the extent of potential contamination of a site and pollutant linkages. A comprehensive list of the information to be gathered as part of the desk study is included in the list provided in Appendix L: Information Sources and Evaluation Documents: Desk Study Information, but should, as a minimum, including the following information:

* Historical reviews and archive searches

* Map interpretations

* Assessments of contaminative uses

* Walkover surveys

Sources of information may also include that supplied by the public, and the results of site investigations carried out by the Council or outside consultants.

A site visit will always be made to substantiate documentary information.

Once information collection by desk study has been completed, a final prioritisation will be undertaken prior to any site investigation (except in the case where the site is classed as requiring urgent action). The prioritisation will be based on those concerns identified in Section 4.2: Priorities.

Information Evaluation and Prioritisation

Information on potentially contaminated land that is obtained and produced will be assessed using current UK Government technical guidelines. The documents to be used in the information evaluation process are listed in Appendix L: Information Sources and Evaluation Documents: Information Evaluation Documents, and include the following:

* British Standards documents.

*DEFRA Contaminated Land Research (CLR) Reports, numbers 1-10 and 12.

* DEFRA and the Environment Agency Contaminants in Soil: Collation of Toxicological Data and Intake Values For Humans (TOX) Reports.

* The Contaminated Land Exposure Assessment (CLEA) model and associated Soil Guideline Value (SGV) reports also produced by DEFRA and the Environment Agency.

* Site Specific Risk Assessments.

The SGV represent “intervention values” for various pollutants, soil concentrations above which might present an unacceptable risk to the health of site users and that further investigation and or remediation is required. CLR 6 will be of particular use as it provides a simple systematic approach to prioritising any necessary actions on potentially contaminated sites.

Information Gaps

During the initial review of the Council’s inspection strategy one of the issues considered will be the information collated and whether there are any gaps in the information. At that time a method for resolving any shortfalls will be addressed.

Special Sites

In identifying whether the land meets the definition of contaminated land the local authority must also consider whether the land would also meet one of the Special Site categories, as defined[1] in Annex 2, 18.5-18.9 and Regulations 2 and 3 (summarised here in Appendix A: Glossary of Terms under Special Site(s)). Where the land would meet the definition of a Special Site, the local authority can ask the Environment Agency to undertake the detailed inspection.

In identifying a potential Special Site the local authority also has to establish that at least one significant pollutant linkage exists. Evidence from information gathered and the results of any investigations performed prior to making the request to designate the site as a Special Site will be supplied to the Environment Agency.

Where it is believed a site has the potential to be designated as a Special Site, the local authority has an additional duty to contact the following in writing:

* the owner of the land;

* the person who appears to be the occupier of the land; and

* each person who appears to be an appropriate person.

Site Visit

The designation of a site as contaminated will not be made without a site visit, and photographs may be taken to provide evidence of any visual contamination present. Limited ground surface sampling of materials may also be undertaken in order to ascertain any requirement for more detailed intrusive investigations. The landowner will be notified of any surface sampling undertaken during an initial site visit.

Site Investigation

A site investigation will take place when the desk study has indicated that there is potential for a significant pollutant linkage to exist. Intrusive sampling will then be used to determine the spatial extent and severity of contamination. This can take many forms including the manual or mechanical digging of trial pits and auguring or various types of drilling.

Where the Local Authority carries out an intrusive investigation, this will be done in accordance with appropriate technical procedures found in Appendix L: Information Sources and Evaluation Documents: Information Evaluation Documents. During intrusive investigation all reasonable precautions to avoid harm, water pollution or damage to natural resources, or features of historical or archaeological interest will be undertaken. Prior to the undertaking of an intrusive investigation on any area notified as a protected habitat, the Council will consult English Nature on any action that would require their consent.

It should be noted that intrusive site investigation procedures are classified as ‘Remediation Actions’ by section 78A(7) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and may be required by the local authority (or Environment Agency) pursuant to the serving of a remediation notice subsequent to a Contaminated Land determination.

On the basis of information supplied from an inspection, where there is no longer a reasonable possibility of a pollutant linkage, the Council will not carry out any further detailed inspection.

[1] Contaminated Land (England) Regulations 2000

4.2.3  Phase 3 - Determination of Contaminated Land

Where land is determined through Phases 1 and 2 of the inspection process to be contaminated land, but not a Special Site, and urgent remediation action is not required, the following minimum notification procedure will be carried out:

* The Local Authority will identify the owner and occupier of the land, and the appropriate person to bear responsibility for the remediation action required.

* The Local Authority will send notification of the determination to the relevant parties and copy to the Environment Agency, detailing the evidence for the determination.

* Consultation with the relevant parties regarding the remediation scheme, actions required, and how and when they are to be implemented, will then be commenced.

The Local Authority will endeavour to informally consult the owners and occupiers of land and appropriate persons one calendar month prior to making a formal determination of contaminated land. This is to allow the parties the opportunity to voluntarily collect and present relevant information regarding the land to the Local Authority.

However, the Local Authority is not under any statutory obligation to undertake informal pre-notifications of its intentions and such pre-notifications will be made on a discretionary basis. Where it is considered that this may result in deliberate obstruction of the Local Authority’s investigations, no pre-notification will be carried out.

A public register of contaminated land, as required by the legislation, will be maintained; the details of what will be included in this register are dealt with in Section 7.2.1.

Serving of Remediation Notices

Under Part IIA the enforcing authority may serve a remediation notice on any appropriate person(s). Notwithstanding situations of emergency, the Council will always seek to make reasonable effort to consult the appropriate persons, owners or occupiers of a site prior to serving any remediation notices. Where required a remediation notice will be served, but not sooner than 3 calendar months from the date of the contaminated land notification being served on the appropriate persons.

Before serving any remediation notice, the enforcing authority needs to consider whether it has the power to carry out any of the remediation actions itself. Where this applies, the authority is precluded from serving a remediation notice requiring anyone else to carry out that remediation action [4].

 
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