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Housing: Contamination

Volume 471: debated on Monday 28 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) whether she has been informed of any cases where residential houses have been built on contaminated land before such land has been signed off by an environmental health officer; (182210)

(2) what consideration has been given to amending planning policy statements so that houses may not be built on contaminated land that has not been signed off by an environmental health officer.

There have been cases where the remediation of contaminated land was not addressed appropriately prior to redevelopment. This is why the Government published new planning policy on land remediation in 2004. The policy, set out in Planning Policy Statement 23: “Planning and Pollution Control” (PPS23) and supporting annexe, expects a local planning authority in granting planning permission for new development to be satisfied that the proposed development is appropriate, having regard to the information available to it about the contamination and the proposed remediation measures and standards. PPS23 makes it clear that the developer is responsible for ensuring appropriate, competent professional advice is available to carry out investigations of land potentially affected by contamination, assessment of risk and the design and execution of remediation works, including verification of their effectiveness. The local planning authority is entitled to rely on that advice or to challenge it on the basis of similarly-qualified expert advice accessible to it in-house or externally. In all cases the standard of remediation to be achieved through the granting of planning permission for a new development is the removal of unacceptable risk and making the site suitable for its new use.