Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Cleaning up contaminated land

Cleaning up land contamination

Cleaning up land contamination is known as remediation. It is the action required to ensure that land contamination is no longer a risk to human health or the environment. Remediation includes assessing the condition of the site, carrying out any necessary clean up, restoring the site and making follow up inspections.

You may need to remediate land:

  • if you are identified as an appropriate person to have responsibility by your local council, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) or the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)  - this may be voluntarily or to comply with a remediation notice.
  • if your operations breach your pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit and cause contamination
  • to surrender your PPC permit - you will have to return the site to a satisfactory state (at least to the state it was in before your operations began)
  • to comply with a planning condition so that the site is suitable for the proposed use in the planning permission
  • to comply with a remediation notice issued under the environmental damage regime
  • voluntarily, as part of your corporate due diligence or risk management plans.  

If you do not agree to a remediation scheme voluntarily your local authority may issue you with a remediation notice. This will identify what you must do and by when.

If more than one person is responsible for cleaning up the land your local council will decide how you share the cost of remediation. This will be detailed in your remediation notice.

If you are issued with a remediation notice you should consider seeking legal advice and technical support. You will be told about your right of appeal against the remediation notice. Your local council may be able to give you contact details for specialist consultants in your area.

You must notify your local council when the specified work has been carried out. Allowing the natural recovery of land may be an acceptable form of remediation in some cases.

Contaminated soil in landfill

DAERA: Contaminated land

SEPA: Land remediation and waste management

Further information

HMRC: Tax breaks for remediation of land contamination

HMRC: Landfill tax

In this Guideline

Defining land contamination

Responsibilities for land contamination

Preventing land contamination

Environmental damage caused by land contamination

Cleaning up contaminated land

Buying land affected by contamination

Insuring against the risk of land contamination

Contaminated land environmental legislation

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Permits

NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms