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Garages and Petrol Stations: Contamination

Volume 504: debated on Wednesday 27 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what duties there are on the owner of a rental petrol forecourt site to decontaminate the site once its use as a petrol station has ceased; and if he will make a statement. (312671)

There are various measures which create duties to address contamination, depending on the circumstances of the case. Contaminated land legislation (Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990) makes persons liable for the cost of remediating a site if they caused or knowingly permitted it to become contaminated land. This allows direct action to be taken by regulators, and it creates an incentive for operators to avoid causing contamination in the first place, and to clean it up voluntarily if it occurs. For contamination caused after 1 March 2009, the Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations 2009 would also be applicable in similar circumstances and to achieve similar objectives to Part 2A of the 1990 Act.

Legislation also directly applies to prevent contamination during the operation of a petrol station. Under the Groundwater Regulations 2009 there is a code of practice to prevent hazardous substances from reaching groundwater from underground tanks, such as those at petrol stations. The Environment Agency can serve a notice on the operator if it is likely that the code of practice is not being complied with. The Agency also has powers under the Anti-pollution Works Notices Regulations 1999 to serve notices where there is a threat of pollution to controlled waters or to require clean up where pollution of controlled waters has occurred.

Where a petrol forecourt is operated under a rental agreement, there may be further duties on the operator to deal with contamination as an indirect result of legislation.