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Contaminated Land Inspection Work
Like all Scottish councils, we have a legal duty to inspect our area to identify and remediate contaminated land (remediation means cleaning it up and making it safe for its current use). This duty is under Part IIA of the Environmental Act 1990 (as amended).
Our work involves carrying out various investigations and risk assessments to make sure a site is suitable for its current use.
We’ve identified several thousand former industrial sites across Fife.
How the law defines contaminated land
The legal definition is:
"Land that appears to the local authority in whose area it is situated to be in such a condition, by reason of substances in, on or under the land that:
Fife's contaminated land inspection strategy
Producing an inspection strategy is one of our legal duties. It details:
We published our first strategy in October 2001 and have updated it several times as our programme has progressed.
How we implement our inspection strategy
Contaminated land is a complex and specialised subject, so we've contracted three professional environmental consultants who are experts in this field.
Using their knowledge and experience, and our knowledge of Fife, we work together to identify and investigate sites in line with our strategy.
Redeveloping Land affected by Contamination
The Scottish Government is encouraging developments on former industrial sites. These sites are often called brownfield sites.
What we do
Part of our role is to make sure these kinds of developments are done properly. We do this through the planning process by giving general information and advice.
What developers need to do
Anyone involved in developing former industrial land needs to consider contamination issues very carefully.
Our role in the Development Process
We advise Fife Council’s Development Management Services on land contamination matters in planning issues. They still take the lead in all planning issues.
For example, we may review reports that accompany a planning application. But all information that accompanies planning applications must firstly be sent to them, not to us.
What advice we can, and can’t give:
We can provide general information and advice, for example to developers.
Contamination issues can be complex and could have a major impact on your development. So please get in touch with us as early as possible if you have any queries.
But please bear in mind that we can’t act as consultants, for example by interpreting facts or advice.
We have published an advice booklet for developing brownfield sites in Fife which may prove useful for developers and their consultants when submitting reports to accompany a planning application. This advice booklet includes:
The Developer's Responsibility
If you’re a developer seeking to redevelop a site that may have been affected by contamination, you’re responsible for making sure it’s suitable for the proposed use.
Planning Advice Note (PAN) 33 sets out this responsibility. It states:
“Where planning consent is granted for a site on which the presence of contamination is known or suspected, an advisory note may be attached to the planning permission informing the applicant(s) that the responsibility for the safe development of the site rests with the developer.
“It may also warn the applicant that the planning authority has determined the application on the basis of the information available to it, but this does not mean that the land is free from contamination.”
How to show you’ve taken contamination into account
You should be able to show that you have considered potential contamination as a factor affecting your development by carrying out appropriate site investigations.
If you don’t follow the recommended procedures
Failing to complete appropriate investigations and carry out remediation work properly can have serious consequences. You run the risk of:
Requesting Environmental Information