Contaminated land

Page updated on: 04/12/2023

Contaminated land is defined under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 Section 78A(2) 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

  • significant harm is being caused or there is a significant possibility of such harm being caused; or
  • pollution of controlled waters is being, or is likely to be, caused.’ 

For land to be designated as being ‘contaminated’, there must be a source of contamination present, a receptor that could be harmed, and a viable pathway that can link the source and the receptor. This is also known as the source/pathway/receptor model, where a clear relationship should be established between all three. Land cannot be designated as being ‘contaminated’ without all three being present.

Carmarthenshire has a rich and diverse industrial legacy, including a wide range of industries such as mining, tin plate manufacturing, gas works, tanneries etc. All of these processes have the potential to have caused contamination of the ground, ground waters or other sensitive receptors. We have identified a number of sites where there is a potential for contamination to remain, or where there is no evidence to confirm that adequate remediation has taken place. In these areas, further investigation may be necessary. A Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy is in the process of being reviewed and updated and will appear here soon.

The law requires us to keep a register of sites that we have designated as being ‘contaminated land’ which must contain details about the site, and any notices or statements that it has been subject to.

Currently, there are no sites within Carmarthenshire that have been determined as being contaminated land. A number of sites within Carmarthenshire have been subject to investigation, and then remediated on a voluntary basis. Remediation may have been undertaken by private home/landowners, or by developers of the land.

The costs of undertaking a clean-up (known as remediation) of land that is affected by contamination should always rest with the original polluter (known as Class A persons). This follows the ‘polluter pays’ principle. Where the original polluter cannot be found, perhaps due to them being deceased, or the company no longer existing, the responsibility will usually fall to the current owner/occupier of the land (Class B persons).

Where possible, land that may be contaminated should be remediated during development or regeneration projects. We work closely with colleagues in other council departments to ensure developers are made aware of the steps that must be taken when completing an investigation. Detailed information on the Model Procedures for the Management of Land Contamination – CLR11 can be found on the Natural Resources Wales’s website.