If you have just come into some land as part of your inheritance and you have heard someone mention that it might be contaminated, then you are likely wondering what exactly that means. According to the government website in the UK, land that has been exposed to lead and other heavy metals, or tar and oils could be contaminated. If the land has been exposed to gases or radioactive substances, then that exposure could also cause contaminated land.
How Is Land Determined To Be Contaminated?
If the land has been exposed to something that will cause harm to the property itself, to animals, or to humans, then it is considered to be contaminated land. If any water on the land is heavily polluted and that pollution could cause harm to animals or humans, then this too would make the area fall under this type of designation. If any aspect of the property has been exposed to something that will do harm to animals or humans or to the property itself, then they are considered this type of ‘special site’.
How Does Land Become Contaminated?
The most common cause is that some type of business polluted the area in the past. This might be a factory or mining operation, or it could be a refinery or steel mill. Another common cause is an old landfill. These types of businesses will leave behind the remnants of their production processes which fills the land and water with pollutants, that are ultimately harmful to animals and to people. In some cases, it could be something that does harm to any property situated on it, causing it to corrode or to become damaged in some other way.
What Happens Once A Property Has Been Determined To Be A Special Site?
If you have a piece of property that has been designated as a special site, then it will fall under the regulatory rules of either the Environment Agency in England, the Natural Resources Department in Wales, or SEPA in Scotland. If the Environment Agency has decided that a piece of property you have falls under this category, then they would determine what the next step would be.
The council will come to a decision on how the land itself should be dealt with. They will hold the people that were at fault for polluting the area, or the owner who allowed it to happen, responsible. That person or persons will then be charged with the responsibility of cleaning it up to an acceptable level. If the responsible parties fail to comply, then the council will send out a remediation notice informing them of when it must be done.
If someone fails to do the necessary things to bring the land up to an acceptable standard, then they could face some type of legal action. For obvious reasons, this is something that should be avoided. The first step is to establish that you are not the responsible party but if you’re unable to do that and held liable, then you should start negotiations e with the council on how the clean up operations should be handled.
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