Contaminated Land Regime | Legal Advice For SMEs

Contaminated land is a big issue that is being considered on a big scale. All landowners, occupiers and potential purchasers of land should be aware of the regime which is included in Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act (1990). The consequences for a SME could be catastrophic.

What Will Happen?

The Local Authority is the relevant regulator in relation to most pieces of land. Although contamination of land is not an offence, the Contaminated Land Regime was implemented to ensure that contaminated land is remediated. Therefore, if the Local Authority becomes aware that land within its area is contaminated, it will establish who is responsible for the clean-up operation.

Liability for the clean up of land rests primarily with those who are responsible for causing or knowingly permitting the land to become contaminated. However, should the Local Authority be unable to find any person who has caused the land to become contaminated, the liability will pass to the owner or occupier of the land. This will happen despite the fact that they are not responsible for the land becoming contaminated.

Once aware of the persons responsible for remediation, the Local Authority is under a duty to serve a Remediation Notice, unless it is satisfied that remediation work is being undertaken voluntarily. Failing to comply with a remediation notice is a criminal offence and is likely to be punished with a prosecution or other enforcement action.

How Can We Help?

Our legal team is experienced in entering into constructive dialogue with the regulator in order to ensure that a Remediation Notice is only served if strictly necessary. The service of a Remediation Notice can have an effect on other matters (such as insurance premiums) in addition to potential prosecution.

You can appeal a Remediation Notice. We can advise you on whether the notice should be appealed and help ensure that you have the best possible prospects of success.

A Contaminated Land issue is a difficult problem for any SME. It is likely to require significant management time, even if the remediation works are found not to be their responsibility.

Our expert team of lawyers can assist you in the necessary due diligence, prior to the purchase of any land, to avoid these issues occurring.

Who Should You Contact?

For any assistance in relation to Contaminated Land issues, please contact our team on 0370 1500 100 or get in touch online.

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