Contaminated land

Our borough’s industrial legacy is less than in many built urban areas, yet land may still be affected by contamination as a result of historical use, industrial processes, waste disposal and accidental spillages. If land contamination is not dealt with adequately it can pose risks to human health, controlled waters and the wider environment.

Contaminated Land has a specific definition and is defined in Part 2A 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) significant pollution of controlled waters is being caused or there is a significant possibility of such pollution being caused.'

In order for a site to be determined as 'contaminated land' under the legislation, a significant 'pollutant linkage' must exist. A pollutant linkage consists of a pollutant (the contaminant), a pathway (the route for the contaminant to move along) and a receptor (person, property, etc). All three must be linked (and the definition above must be fulfilled) in order for a site to be determined as contaminated land.

Visit the government’s website to find out more about contaminated land

Inspection responsibilities

Under Part 2 A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, all local authorities have a duty to inspect their land to identify where contamination is present. This is to ensure that the appropriate person (the polluter) is made to improve the land to a standard that makes it ‘suitable for its use’. 

We have written a strategy which identifies the local arrangements for fulfilling the contaminated land inspection. 

View our contaminated land inspection strategy

Public register

The council is required to produce and maintain a public register of any lands within our borough that have been designated as contaminated land, as defined by the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Currently there are no entries on the public register. Any entries added to the register will be listed on this webpage.

Contaminated land and planning

When an application is made for planning permission, we check our records for historical land use and other environmental factors. If necessary, a condition and/or informative will be added to the planning authorisation stating what information is required to clarify the contamination status. Potentially the land must then be remediated to a standard that makes it suitable for the end use of the site.

Below is a guidance document specific to our typical planning conditions that we use. It is intended to assist applicants, developers and consultants with what information and level of detail is required in relation to submissions to discharge contaminated land related conditions. 

View our contaminated land guidance document.

Preventing contamination

We are also involved with the preventing pollution that could lead to the contamination of land. Along with the Environment Agency, we are responsible for the authorisation and monitoring of all polluting processes within Woking Borough. This ensures that all industrial and commercial processes are actively controlled, and that appropriate standards are enforced.

Environmental information requests

Requests for environmental information, under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, should:

  • be made in writing (letter or email).
  • be sent to: Contaminated Land Officer, Estate Management Department, Woking Borough Council, Civic Office, Gloucester Square, Woking, GU21 6YL; or, emailed to  
  • be headed ‘Environmental information request’ and clearly providing the full address with postcode of the area to be searched.
  • include an appropriately scaled site plan with the boundary of the land clearly marked, preferably in red.
  • have questions that are clear, precise and unambiguous.

Applicants should note that a charge applies for environmental information

Once requests have been received they will be reviewed and confirmation of the charge will be provided. The charge will need to be agreed prior to any work being undertaken.

More information

Visit Information Commissioner’s Office website to find out more about environmental information regulations