Land Contamination

Land contamination is land that has become polluted as a result of a present or previous pollution incidents, commercial or industrial activity.

Contaminated material can affect the underlying ground or water within the ground and could harm people, building materials, water courses or nature.

Enquiries About Contaminated Land

If you would like to find out whether a particular property had a former land use that may potentially have caused some soil contamination, you can make a request from the Environmental Protection Team at email

Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990

Local authorities are responsible for identifying sites that are not subject to a planning application but may be potentially contaminated and unsuitable for their current use. This is enacted under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Under Part IIA the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham (LBBD) is required to take a strategic approach to inspect the land within its area, to identify and prioritise contaminated land which is most likely to pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment.

Following the enactment of the Part IIA legislation, DEFRA published Statutory Guidance on implementing Part IIA (PDF, 488KB). Under this Guidance, the Council was required to publish an Inspection Strategy to show how it identifies land in the borough where contamination is causing unacceptable risks to human health and the wider environment.

In July 2001, LBBD published our first Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy (PDF, 893KB)

The original strategy was updated in January 2023 and will soon be available for consultation.

From 2001-2011 LBBD did extensive work in reviewing prioritised sites which potentially presented an unacceptable risk to human health. One site was designated as contaminated land and entered on LBBD’s Contaminated Land Register. The details are available here:

LBBD no longer has any prioritised sites which meet the legal definition of contaminated land under Part IIA. Should new information about potential contamination in the borough come to light in the future then this decision would change.

Planning Application Sites

Any sites which are intended to be developed as part of a planning application, are dealt with under the Town and Country Planning Act. The National Planning Policy Framework states that:

“where a site is affected by contamination or land stability issues, responsibility for securing a safe development rests with the developer and/or landowner.” 

The owners and/or developers of the site must establish the extent and nature of any potentially harmful materials on the site. This should normally be done before formal planning permission is granted for the development. However, if this is not possible, permission can be granted, but certain conditions will be attached to the permission, which must be met.

If potential risks are identified, the land will need to be dealt with before development begins, to minimise all risks posed. This process is known as remediation.

Any land development which involves the redevelopment of commercial, or industrial, land subjected to pollution incidents or tarmacked areas must refer to the Land Contamination Risk Assessment guidance published by DEFRA in 2021.

Guidelines were produced in 2004 to help developers meet the planning requirements for a potentially contaminated site. It was prepared in collaboration with twelve other London boroughs and the Environment Agency, and sets out the information that a Local Planning Authority will require. Although some references and guidance have since been superseded, the basis of this publication is still applicable. 

Contaminated Land London Guidance for Developers (PDF, 337KB)


Once contaminated land has been correctly identified, the risk needs to be dealt with, and a programme of appropriate remediation must be undertaken. This means that any work undertaken should result in the land being ‘suitable for use’ so it no longer poses a significant risk - bearing in mind its current or proposed use.

It also means that the effects of any significant harm, or water pollution that has occurred, have been remedied. In many situations the level of contamination is reduced to the point at which no significant risk remains. This does not necessarily mean that all traces of contamination are removed, and in some situations the contamination will be left where it is but permanently contained so that it is prevented from doing any further harm.

On-site remediation is not likely to affect residents. If a site investigation has been undertaken and remediation is required, then you may find out further details by contacting the Planning Team. It is possible to review relevant reports on the planning pages.

Brownfield Land Register

The Town and Country Planning (Brownfield Land Register) Regulations 2017 has provided,

through the NPPF, a requirement for the Council to develop a Brownfield Land Register, which

identifies the brownfield sites in the borough that the Council considers suitable for housing

and other uses. The Brownfield Land Register for LBBD can be viewed on our Brownfield Land Register page.

Statutory Guidance

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