Contaminated land

Please read our information on how we are supporting residents and businesses, as well as information on affected services.


Draft Strategy

The Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy 2020-2025 outlines how we intend to fulfil our duty for contaminated land.

We carried out a public consultation to hear people's views on the draft strategy. The consultation has now ended and we are considering the comments received. The finalised and approved strategy will be published on this webpage.

The legislative framework for the management of contaminated land is provided by:

  • Part II A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
  • Contaminated Land (England) Regulations 2000.

Under this framework, Cornwall Council (as an enforcing authority) has certain obligations. These are to:­ 

  • Inspect the district and identify any contaminated land
  • Establish responsibility for the remediation of contaminated land
  • Ensure any necessary remediation takes place, either by agreement or enforcement action
  • Determine liability for the cost of any remediation.

What is 'contaminated' land?

Contaminated land in the UK has arisen as a result of historic industrial activities and waste disposal practices.

In the past, legal controls and standards within industry were not as high as they are today. This has resulted in polluted ground. There are some pollutants which are naturally occurring. These are also considered under this legislation.

Contaminating substances may include:

  • Metals/metallic compounds, such as cadmium, arsenic, lead, nickel
  • Organic compounds, such as  oils, petrol, solvents, fats
  • Gases, such as methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide

For a site to be 'contaminated', a 'significant pollutant linkage' must always exist. The three components below must always be present to create a pollutant linkage:­

  • Source - the contamination in, on or under the land
  • Pathway - route by which contamination reaches the receptor
  • Receptor - defined as living organisms, ecological systems or property.

The site cannot be defined as 'contaminated' land if there is a break in this pollutant linkage for example

  • there is a source
  • and a receptor,
  • but no pathway

Contaminated Land Strategy

To fulfil the legislative obligations, Local Authorities have published Contaminated Land Strategies. The main objectives of the Strategy were to:­

  • Identify and record all sensitive receptors
  • Identify and record sites that have the potential to be 'contaminated'
  • Assess whether a pathway exists between the potential source and receptor
  • If a potential pathway exists, carry out a further detailed inspection of the site.

Contaminated land management

The Council manages contaminated land through the planning and development process. May apply when a site has a development proposal that requires planning approval. If it is believed that a site may be 'contaminated':
then further information will be requested including a site investigation if required.

Cornwall Council's Environmental Protection department have planning guidance for developers.

Following the site investigation, if the site is 'contaminated'. The Council may need the implementation of  works to ensure that the site will be fit for use.

Cornwall Contaminated Land Register

A contaminated land register (CLR) held and maintained as prescribed by: 

  • part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

The register acts as a permanent record of the regulatory action taken.

Besides the CLR, there are 'Records of Determination' for the following sites.

Church Street Car Park, Falmouth is on land owned by Cornwall Council. A 'Remediation Declaration' was issued.

Wheal Maid Tailings Lagoons

Church Street Car Park, Falmouth

RAF Portreath

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