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Long awaited change to the definition of contaminated land

10 February 2012

The definition of ‘contamination’ in relation to controlled waters under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 has finally been amended by the Water Act 2003. The change will take effect on 6 April 2012.

The definition for contamination to controlled waters will now require ‘significant pollution of controlled waters or significant possibility of significant pollution of controlled waters’.

This brings the test into line with the definition for contamination relating to the environment or human health.

In enforcement terms, we don’t consider that there is likely to be any practical change, as enforcement agencies are already reluctant to take action unless there is evidence of serious pollution.

However, for businesses and developers, it will provide the clarity and reassurance they require to take appropriate risk assessments of their potential liability, and will remove the risk of expensive remediation works where insignificant pollution occurs.

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