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Contaminated land

Like many areas, Waltham Forest's industrial history means that some our land is contaminated. If not dealt with properly, this can cause harm to both human health and the environment.

Land can be contaminated by things like:

  • heavy metals, such as arsenic, cadmium and lead
  • oils and tars
  • chemical substances and preparations, like solvents
  • gases
  • asbestos
  • radioactive substances

Local authorities and the Environment Agency are the main regulators that deal with contaminated land. We have statutory duties around this, including drafting a Contaminated Land Strategy which details how we will fulfil our responsibilities.

Contaminated land strategy and register

Contaminated land strategy

Our first contaminated land strategy was launched in 2001, following the Environment Act 1995. We adopted our current strategy in June 2021.

We aim to work within the requirements of this legal framework by prioritising sites of interest for detailed inspection. However, given the number of sites, and the key role of planning, we will use the planning process in our assessments. We aim:

  • To fulfil our statutory obligations to create a formal strategy under Part 2A
  • To advance and help to redevelop brownfield sites.
  • To encourage voluntary cleaning up of sites to educe the burden on taxpayers, businesses, and individuals.
  • To prioritise sites for detailed investigation.
  • To use a strategic and systematic approach to deal with contaminated land and ensure local development effectively deals with contamination.
  • To ensure that action taken to clean up sites is done in the best possible way and is lasting.

Read our contaminated land strategy (PDF)

Contaminated land register

Local authorities must keep a register of all sites that have been formally determined as ‘contaminated land’. We have not designated any sites as ‘contaminated land’.

Environmental reports and information

You can request environmental information including land contamination data that we hold on our "Environmental information regulation" page.

Developing potentially contaminated sites

Our objective is to deal with land that has been contaminated due to its past use, and ensure it is properly cleaned up. Developing brownfield land has the potential for contamination. This is mainly managed through planning, in line with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), as well as our local planning policy and guidance.

We assess planning applications for sites of potential contamination using a phased planning condition approach. This means setting conditions to address each stage of the investigation process and ensure sites are verified as free of risk before occupation. The NPPF puts the onus on the developer to ensure that development is done safely and contamination risks are addressed.

Developers follow the Guidance for developing on land affected by contamination developed by the East London Contaminated Land Group. It provides advice on how to redevelop potentially contaminated land.

Guidance for developing on land affected by contamination (PDF)

Under The Town and Country Planning (Brownfield Land Register) Regulations 2017, we are required to develop a Brownfield Land Register. This identifies the location of brownfield sites in the borough we consider suitable for housing and other uses.