Land contamination—issues in property transactions
Produced in partnership with ELM Law
Land contamination—issues in property transactions

The following Environment practice note produced in partnership with ELM Law provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Land contamination—issues in property transactions
  • Law Society practice note on contaminated land
  • Extent of land contamination in England and Wales
  • Why is land contamination an important issue in conveyancing transactions?
  • Liability position of the buyer, seller, landlord and tenant
  • Withdrawal of funding for contaminated land enforcement
  • How to minimise or transfer liabilities for contaminated land

Law Society practice note on contaminated land

The Law Society issued a warning card on contaminated land in April 2002. This was replaced by a practice note in December 2014, which was reissued with minor changes on 13 April 2016. The practice note sets out the Law Society’s view of good practice and advises solicitors in all transactions involving property to:

  1. undertake a CON 29 and LLC1 search to ascertain whether the land has been designated by the local authority as contaminated land

  2. undertake a desktop search of historic site uses

  3. raise enquiries about contaminated land issues

  4. advise clients about the liability implications

  5. add appropriate protections if liability issues are identified

For further information, see the Practice Note: Land contamination—Law Society practice note on contaminated land.

Extent of land contamination in England and Wales

There is no accurate record of the amount or location of contaminated land in England and Wales.

The Environment Agency (EA)’s first report in 2002 on the extent of contaminated land in England (Dealing with contaminated land in England), referred to estimates of 50,000 to 300,000 hectares of land affected by contamination, amounting to approximately 100,000 sites. Of these the EA considered that 5,000 to 20,000 sites may be expected to be a problem.

The EA’s second report in 2009 covered the state of contaminated land in both England and Wales (Dealing with contaminated land in

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