The term contaminated land covers a wide range of situations where land is contaminated in some way. In a small number of this situation where certain criteria are met, a site might be determined as contaminated land, which has specific legal definition set out in Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act.
Throughout the UK there are thousands of sites that have been contaminated by previous uses. Often this is associated with industrial processes or activities that have now ceased, but where waste products or remaining residues present a hazard to the general environment. The law says the problem must be put right.
If you own or occupy contaminated land now, or you did in the past, you may be responsible for cleaning up the pollution. You may still be responsible for cleaning up the pollution after you have sold the land.
There is increasing pressure to reuse land which is affected by contamination rather than develop Greenfield sites such as parks or woodland.