Contaminated land—significant pollution of controlled waters
Contaminated land—significant pollution of controlled waters

The following Environment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Contaminated land—significant pollution of controlled waters
  • What are controlled waters?
  • What is pollution of controlled waters?
  • What is significant pollution of controlled waters?
  • When is significant pollution of controlled waters caused?
  • When is there a significant possibility of such pollution?
  • Possibility of significant pollution of controlled waters
  • Significant possibility
  • Category 1–4 tests

Contaminated land—significant pollution of controlled waters

What are controlled waters?

'Controlled waters' are defined in the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Pt IIA (EPA 1990) as having the same meaning as in the Water Resources Act 1991, Pt III (WRA 1991) except that the definition of 'ground waters' is modified.

Essentially, controlled waters include:

  1. relevant territorial waters (eg sea water out to three nautical miles)

  2. coastal waters (eg tidal waters)

  3. inland freshwaters (eg rivers, streams, watercourses, lakes, and ponds that are not tidal)

  4. ground waters (eg water stored in rock layers beneath the soil)

For more information, see Practice Note: Contaminated land—meaning of controlled waters under Pt IIA.

What is pollution of controlled waters?

'Pollution of controlled waters' means the entry into controlled waters of poisonous, noxious or polluting matter or solid waste matter.

‘Polluting’ matter, has a different meaning from ‘poisonous’ or ‘noxious’ matter. Pollute or polluting has its ordinary dictionary meaning, ie 'to make physically impure, foul or filthy: to dirty, stain, taint or befoul'. Whether matter pollutes the water is a question of fact and degree (see: R v Dovermoss Ltd).

There is no need for polluting matter to cause actual harm. For example, it is sufficient if the matter stains or taints the water. In Express, cream released from a lorry was polluting matter even though it didn’t do any harm. It did however, have the potential to cause

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