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Contaminated land

What is contaminated land?


Contaminated Land Strategy

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Land can become polluted with potentially harmful contaminants. Contaminated land cannot be used until it has been cleaned up enough to meet specified requirements.

What is contaminated land?

Land which may be contaminated has the potential to do any one or more of the following:

  • Cause harm to human, animal or plant health.
  • Pollute surface or ground water.
  • Cause damage to buildings because of substances on, in, or under the land.

Things which may be harmed by contamination are known as receptors.

For land to be classed as contaminated, the source and the receptor must be linked (i.e. there is a route, called the pathway, from the substances on, in or under the land which leads to a receptor).

"Brownfield land" is land which has been used for an industrial purpose in the past. It is not necessarily "contaminated land", but it is "land which may be contaminated", and it will require investigation to discover what is in the soil.


Cleaning up contaminated land is called remediation.

Remediation may be as simple as digging out the contaminated material and taking it to a suitable landfill site, or it may be a combination of physical, chemical and biological techniques. For more information see CL:AIRE.

A brownfield site needs to be remediated to a standard known as "suitable for use". A site that is going to be used for a factory does not have to be remediated to such a high standard as one going to be used for housing. If the land is to be sold after it has been remediated, so that the end use is not known, it will need to be remediated to housing standards.

Planning conditions are put on brownfield land before it is redeveloped.

Contaminated Land Strategy

Our pdf icon contaminated land strategy [1Mb] explains how we identify land which is or may be contaminated, how the land will be dealt with, and who is responsible for dealing with it. The strategy is not a list of "contaminated sites".

In Mansfield, we class sites as:

  • "no further action required";
  • "further assessment required if major changes take place"; and
  • "contaminated land".

We regularly review all sites across the district to identify land which may be contaminated. No sites have yet been identified as contaminated land under the definitions given in Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

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We can provide contamination reports on individual sites, but we make a charge for this service. Please contact us for further details.


Radon is a naturally-occurring gas that is produced by the slow breakdown of underground rocks. It can accumulate under houses in cellars and underfloor spaces, and may contribute towards lung cancer.

Over half the district (the eastern side) is on sandstone, which is very little affected by radon. The western side is on limestone, and testing has shown that most of the properties that may be affected are on this side, plus a few on faults in the sandstone.

Because of the limestone on the west, the district is classed as a radon-affected area, and newbuild properties are normally required to have radon protection built into the ground floor.

It is not usually necessary to retro-fit radon protection measures in older houses.

More advice on radon is available from the Public Health England website. Radon maps are also on this site.

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