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Birmingham City Council

Contaminated Land - Glossary of Terms

Contaminated Land - Glossary of Terms

Borehole:
A hole drilled in the ground in order to take samples and to allow gas and water monitoring.

Carbon Dioxide:
A constituent of landfill gas. It is heavier than air and will asphyxiate if present in sufficient concentrations.

Contaminated Land:
Defined in Section 78 A (2) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 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:-
a) significant harm is being caused or there is a significant possibility of such harm being caused; or
b) pollution of
controlled waters is being, or is likely to be caused."

Contaminated Land Register:
The public register maintained by the enforcing Authority under the provisions of 78R of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 of the particulars relating to contaminated land. The Register contains details of land that has been identified by the Local Authority, which is giving rise to significant harm or polluting controlled water. It also includes details of any enforcement action being undertaken by the Authority.

Controlled Waters:
Defined in Section 104 of the Water Resources Act 1991 and includes territorial and coastal water, inland fresh waters, and ground waters.

Current Use:
Any use which is currently being made, or is likely to be made, of the land and which is consistent with any existing planning permission (or otherwise lawful under town and planning legislation)

Harm:
Defined in Section 78 A (4) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as
"harm to the health of living organisms or other interference with the ecological systems of which they form part and, in the case of man, includes harm to his property."

Impermeable Membrane or Barrier:
Used to describe materials, natural or synthetic, which prevent the passage of liquids or gases. Landfill gas Barriers and membranes are used to prevent gases migrating or entering properties thereby ensuring the building is safe.

Intrusive Investigations:
An investigation of land (for example by exploratory excavations), which involves actions going beyond simple visual inspection of the land, limited sampling or assessment of documentary information.

Landfill Gas:
Gas that is produced by the biodegradation of waste materials in a landfill site. The gas contains principally a mixture of methane gas and carbon dioxide. Other gases in trace concentrations are also present.

Landfill Site:
An area of land, depression or former quarry which has been or is being infilled with waste materials.

Methane Gas:
A constituent of landfill gas. It is flammable and explosive at concentration between 5-15% vol/vol.

Orphan Linkage:
Is a significant pollutant linkage for which no appropriate person can be found, or where those who would otherwise be liable are exempted by one of the relevant statutory provisions.

Owner:
Defined in Section 78 A (9) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as
"a person (other than a mortgagee not in possession) who, whether in his own right or a trustee for any other person, is entitled to receive the rack rent of the land, or where the land is not let at a rack rent, would be so entitled if it were so to let."

Pollutant Linkage:
The relationship between a contaminant, a pathway and a receptor.

Pollution of Controlled Waters:
Defined in Section 78 A(9) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as:-
"the entry into controlled waters of any poisonous, noxious or polluting matter or any solid waste matter."


Possibility of Significant Harm:
A measure of the probability, or frequency, of occurrence of circumstances, which would lead to significant, harm being caused.

Receptor:
"a living organism, a group of living organisms, an ecological system or a piece of property which is being, or could be harmed, by a contaminant, or controlled waters which are being, or could be, polluted by a contaminant."

Remediation:
A remediation action falling within the definition of Section 78 A (7) the Environmental Protection Act 1990 is
"doing any works, the carrying out of any operations or the taking of any steps in relation to any land or waters for the purpose of:-
a) preventing or minimising, or remedying or mitigating the effects of any significant harm, or any pollution of controlled waters, by reason of which the contaminated land is such land, or
b) of restoring the land or waters to their former state."


Remediation Notice:
Defined in Section 78E(6) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as a notice specifying what appropriate person is to do by way of remediation and the periods within which he is required to do each of the things so specified. It is the mechanism by which the Local Authority or the Environment Agency can ensure that land is remediated if it poses a risk of significant harm or pollution of controlled waters.

Remediation Scheme:
The complete set or sequence of remediation actions (preferable to one or more significant pollutant linkages) to be carried out with respect to the relevant land or waters.

Remediation Statement:
Defined in Section 78H(7) as a statement prepared and published by the responsible person detailing the remediation actions which are being, have been, or are expected to be done as well as the periods within which these things are being done.

Risk:
Is the combination of
"a) the probability, or frequency,. of an occurrence of a defined hazard (for example, exposure to property of a substance with potential to cause harm); and
b) the magnitude (including the seriousness) of the consequences."

Significant Harm:
Any harm which is determined to be significant in accordance with the statutory guidance in Chapter A of DETR Circular 01/2006.

Site Investigation:
This term is used to describe the process of carrying out investigations on land to determine whether there is contamination present. The investigation is carried out in several stages. These stage are typically a desk study to assess historical land use, intrusive investigation using trial pits and boreholes, sampling of materials, assessment of risk, and preparation of remediation proposal.

Special Site:

Is defined by Section 78A(3) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as
"any contaminated land
a) which has been designated as such by virtue of Section 78C(7) or
b) whose desig nation as such has been terminated by the appropriate Agency under Section 78Q(4)

The effect of the designation of contaminated land as a special site is that the Environment Agency, rather than the local Authority, becomes the enforcing Authority for the land."


Substance:
Is defined in Section 78A(9) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as:-
"any natural or artificial substance, whether In solid or liquid form or in the form of a gas or vapour."

Trial Pits:
Trenches dug into land to check what is below the surface and allow samples to be taken for analysis.

Vent Trenches and Venting Systems:
A trench or similar systems containing porous granular fill material of uniform size which permits the controlled free passage of gases (landfill gas) from a site.


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