Contaminated land

This page provides information for the public, developers and consultants about contaminated land in Northumberland.

Historic industrial processes such as gasworks, mines and landfills have left chemicals in the ground that can pollute soil and groundwater. Brownfield sites are those having a previous potentially contaminative use, such as an old gas works site.

We have a responsibility to check those sites in Northumberland are not causing harm to human health or the environment. Our duty is to:
  • identify and remove proportionate risks to human health and the environment
  • ensure contaminated land is made suitable for its current use
  • ensure remediation (clean-up costs) of the land is feasible and sustainable without causing unnecessary hardship, stress or further damage to the environment
We keep an up-to-date record of sites listed for further investigation and our strategy ensures we inspect higher risk sites every year.

There are currently no entries on the public register of contaminated land. To inspect the register free of charge, please make an appointed during office hours at the County Hall, Morpeth NE61 2EF, 0345 600 6400.
You may be interested in contaminated land because:
  • you are buying a property and the environmental search has failed
  • you are developing a brownfield site which may need remediation work
  • you have been affected by a leak or spillage of oil or chemicals
For site specific queries, your enquiry will be logged as a request for information under the environmental information regulations. Please see below for the charges of this service.

For developers, sites will need assessment to ensure the site is suitable for use. The statutory guidance is now contained in Land Contamination Risk Management produced by the Environment Agency (this is the replacement to CLR 11) and is available at:
There is a useful introduction which provides a guide through the entire process and the longer LCRM documentation which is available at:

There is also our adopted guidance for dealing with land contamination in the development on land affected by contamination produced by The Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Pollution Advisory Group (YALPAG) which outlines procedures to follow

Preferably, you should carry out a phase one desk study prior to submitting a planning application. This will identify whether further intrusive site investigation works are recommended to identify risks.

Planning conditions may apply for investigation and remediation if necessary.

The council investigates incidents where land has been contaminated by spillages or leaks and ensures sites are remediated to an acceptable standard for their current use. Failure to clean up pollution could lead to land being determined as contaminated in the future.
Requests for information relating to environmental searches will be dealt with under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

A very simple information request can be provided at a cost of £25  for up to one hour of work. As a general "rule of thumb", most requests for environmental search failures take more than this but not more than two hours.

We will consult our database of sites, including those listed for further investigation and the priority they have been assigned.

For more complex requests, the information is provided at a cost of £25 + £25 per hour (no VAT is charged on this). This involves retrieving information from our database as well as site specific queries you may have, such as:
  • complaints about pollution
  • records of spillages
  • ground conditions
Following your request, an officer will advise you of any charges and how long it will take to collect the information. Once payment is received, we will send the information to you within 20 working days. If we do not receive payment within 60 days of your request, we will assume you are not proceeding.

Alternatively, you can visit our offices to view this information. This service is free of charge. There is a small charge for any photocopying and printing you require – black and white = 20p (A4) / 40p (A3) a copy, colour = 40p (A4) / 60p (A3) a copy. Please telephone to make an appointment on 0345 600 6400 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).

The Information Commissioner’s Office website offers more advice regarding your rights to access information.

The charges for officer's time to retrive and collate any information and to compile a response are:
Hours Spent Cost
Up to 1 hour for a simple request £25.00
Up to 2 hours      £50.00
Up to 3 hours      £75.00
Up to 4 hours    £100.00
Up to 5 hours    £125.00
Up to 6 hours    £150.00
Additional hours plus      £25.00
There is no VAT charged on this.
Get in touch with the council if you have any pollution issues you think we can assist with.