Part 2A ‘Contaminated Land’
What is Contaminated Land?
Under Part 2a of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 Section 78A(2) defines ‘contaminated land’ as:
“any land which 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
a) significant harm is being caused or there is a significant possibility of such harm being caused; or
b) pollution of controlled waters is being, or is likely to be, caused.”
The Contaminated Land (Wales) Regulations, 2006 (as amended in 2012) sets out the regime to deal with contaminated land which is enforced by the Contaminated Land Team at Wrexham County Borough Council for land which is in the Borough. The main purpose of this law is to provide a system to identify and remediate sites where contamination is causing unacceptable risk to human health and/or the wider environment. The Welsh Government has issued Statutory Guidance which Officers have to comply with in undertaking this work.
Under Part 2A, contaminated land will be identified using the ‘contaminant (source) » pathway » receptor’ linkage risk assessment process. To determine the existence of a risk a clear contaminant linkage must be present.
- If chemicals (the contaminant source) were present underneath a concrete car park, people (the receptor) who use the car park would not be at risk from the chemicals because the concrete would act as a protective barrier. Effectively a pathway would not exist for human health.
- However, if chemicals (the contaminant source) were present in soil which was used to grow vegetables, people (the receptor) who ate the vegetables or touched the soil may be at risk because the eating/touching (the pathway) can transfer the contamination from the source to the receptor.
Suitable For Use
Much land contamination has been present for long time periods and it does not pose a risk to humans or the environment. It is therefore not always necessary to remediate land affected by contamination. In fact land contamination often only creates a problem when the land is used for an unsuitable purpose and/or the contamination is so significant it is affecting controlled waters (e.g. groundwater, rivers).
Paying For Our Past
The Regulations place a duty on all local authorities to inspect land in their area to identify and remediate sites where contamination is causing unacceptable risks to human health and/or the wider environment using the risk assessment approach.
The Council formally adopted its Inspection Strategy in September 2002 and it was revised 2013 (see downloads). The Strategy details the procedures which will be followed to identify ‘contaminated land’ sites in order of priority and ensure they are risk assessed and remediated, where necessary, to an acceptable standard.
If the risk assessment shows that the site meets the definition of ‘contaminated land’ then the Council will apply a number of tests (e.g. cost/benefit analysis), as required by the Statutory Guidance, to decide if it should be remediated.
Responsibility for paying for remediation generally follows the ‘polluter pays principle’. In the first instance, those who caused or knowingly permitted the contaminating substance(s) to be in, on or under the land will be the ‘appropriate person(s)’ to undertake the remediation and meet its costs (Class A person(s)).
However, if it is not possible to find any such person, responsibility may pass to the current owner or occupier of the land (Class B person(s)), but this responsibility could be subject to a number of exemptions. Where a Class B person(s) is exempt the site will become an Orphan Site and the associated costs will be borne by the Council or Natural Resources Wales (NRW), depending on the type of contaminant linkage that exists.
The remediation works can be done voluntarily, however the Council has powers to serve a ‘Remediation Notice’ to require the works to be done.
The Public Register
Wrexham CBC maintains a Register which is available for inspection on request, please contact us for further information. The Register contains details of Determination Notices, Remediation Notices and Remediation Statements for sites determined as contaminated land.
Implementing Part 2A
The Council has undertaken Part 2a investigations for a number of sites, some of these sites were determined as contaminated land, some were funded by Welsh Government bids, others with Council funding, or a combination. Brief details of the sites are provided below.
WAG Contaminated Land Capital Funding Programme
The Welsh Assembly Government (now Welsh Government) created the Contaminated Land Capital Fund which, over 2 phases, made available capital support of £11m over 6 years (2005/06 – 2010/11) to Welsh local authorities and the Environment Agency Wales (now NRW). The fund assisted local authorities in investigating and/or remediating sites. Wrexham CBC were successful in five consecutive years and this funded the assessment of a number of potential contaminated land sites.
|YEAR||NUMBER OF SITES||AMOUNT OF FUNDING AWARDED (£)|
|TOTAL AMOUNT OF FUNDING AWARDED (£)||444,970|
The Llwyneinion Complex
The Council owned Acid Tar Lagoon and Monsanto Chemical Waste Tip have undergone extensive site investigation works over a number of years by both the Council and Environment Agency Wales (now NRW) and the risk assessments indicate the sites do not meet the definition of contaminated land. Routine monitoring continues as part of the management of these sites and enables their status to be periodically reviewed.
A Liaison Group informs the relevant stakeholders of work undertaken and Officers report on works to the Environment & Regeneration Scrutiny Committee. It is hoped that this will help to prevent the spread of misinformation.
Officers from Wrexham CBC and other relevant authorities have been involved in ensuring a ‘joined up approach’ is maintained in dealing with concerns.
Two other privately owned landfills in the area of the complex have also been assessed, these were with the WAG funding referred to above, they were also found not to meet the definition of contaminated land.
Former Council Landfills
As an owner and former operator of landfill sites, Wrexham CBC is responsible for a significant number of the ‘old’ landfill sites within the Borough which do not fall under the regulation of the current waste management regime, therefore these sites have been investigated to assess whether they require remediation in accordance with Part 2a, this work was undertaken using a combination of funds.
Some sites were found to require no remedial work, while others now have management systems put in place to remove potential risks, as appropriate to the relevant landfill. These include the following remedial measures:
- installation and ongoing management of landfill gas flares;
- reinstatement of a landfill cap;
- installation and management of surface water drainage to reduce leachate volume and leachate collection wells;
- collection and appropriate disposal of leachate;
- ongoing monitoring of landfill gas, leachate, groundwater and surface water.
Other Council Owned Land
The Contaminated Land Team are reviewing the measures in place to assess, manage and remediate its own land housing and property.
Other Privately Owned Land
Part 2a assessments have been carried out/are underway on the following former uses of privately owned land (in addition to the 2 former landfills referred to above in the Llwyneinion Complex)
- a former gas works
- 2 former lead smelting sites in Coedpoeth & Brymbo
- a former landfill site