Environmental Health - Contaminated Land

What is Contaminated Land?

“Contaminated Land” has a specific narrow definition under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (Environmental Protection Act 1990) and, for such a designation, the land must represent an unacceptable risk of harm to health, the environment or property. Chemical contaminants are typically present as a result of activities undertaken on a variety of industrial and other land uses, but only a small proportion of such land is likely to fall under the definition of Contaminated Land.

What is the Council doing about contamination?

The Council has a legal duty under the Environmental Protection Act 1990:

  • to identify Contaminated Land in its area;
  • to ensure clean-up of land, where required; and
  • to maintain a register of Contaminated Land.

The Council has compiled a database of historical land use and is prioritising sites based on risk to health and the environment. We carry out investigations on former industrial sites and risk assessments to make sure land is suitable for its current use and is not causing a significant impact on the environment. More details of the Council’s functions in relation to land contamination, and how sites are prioritised, are set out in the Council’s Contaminated Land Strategy and Appendices.

Is there any Contaminated Land in Moray?

There are currently three sites on The Moray Council’s Contaminated Land Register. The register can be viewed by appointment at the Council HQ in Elgin.

Despite its predominantly rural character, Moray, like elsewhere, has a legacy of land contamination arising from former industrial use and historical waste disposal practices. Some of this land was redeveloped for more sensitive uses, such as housing, before the potential risks associated with possible contamination were fully appreciated. These previously developed sites are the priority in the Council’s inspection strategy. Many other sites will be addressed through the planning regime.

How will the possibility of contamination affect my planning application/Building Warrant application

Potential presence of contamination is a material planning consideration and so the Council must ensure that developers carry out an appropriate level of assessment as part of planning applications and, where necessary, deal with any contamination before any new use is commenced. We recommend that, prior to submission of a formal planning application, you contact the Environmental Health Section, which can advise on the level of assessment that will be required for particular sites and developments. For more information on how land contamination will be considered in the Development Management process.

Contamination will also be a consideration in Building Warrant applications, although the majority of sites will be dealt with through Development Management process.  More details are provided in the Council’s Contaminated Land Strategy and Appendices.

How can I find out whether an area of land may be contaminated?

If you would like information about a particular site, the Council provides a reports service, which provides details of the information we hold on historical land use and a preliminary assessment of contamination risk. Find out more about our reports service.

If I have information about some contamination or a pollution incident, who should I tell?

The Council’s role deals primarily with the legacy of past industrial contamination and so you should contact us if your information relates to historical activities. If you information relates to a current business/activity or environmental pollution, you should in the first instance contact the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA website).

Contact Us

Contaminated Land Section
The Moray Council
High Street
IV30 1BX

0300 1234561

01343 563990


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