Q&As

When can a tenant be liable for contaminated land?

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Last updated on 04/04/2014

The following Environment Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • When can a tenant be liable for contaminated land?
  • Contaminated land regime

When can a tenant be liable for contaminated land?

STOP PRESS: The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016, SI 2016/1154 come into force on 1 January 2017. The regulations consolidate all of the amendments to the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010, SI 2010/675 rather than making any substantive policy changes. We will be updating our content to reflect these changes as soon as possible.

Contaminated land regime

The contaminated land regime contained in the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Part IIA ( EPA 1990, Pt IIA) places a statutory duty on local authorities to identify 'contaminated land' in their area and to secure remediation.

If a site is investigated or designated as contaminated land, the local authority will look first for any Class A 'causers' or 'knowing permitters'. If no Class A persons can be found, the current Class B owner or occupier may be liable. See Practice Note: Contaminated land—who may be liable?

Tenant legally excluded as Class B occupier paying a rack rent

Where there are no Class A persons and two or more Class B persons have been identified (eg the landlord as owner and the tenant as occupier), the statutory guidance seeks to exclude from liability a Class B person who does not have an interest in the capital value of the land in question. It excludes from liability any Class B person who:

  1. occupies

Related documents:
Key definition:
Contaminated land definition
What does Contaminated land mean?

Contaminated land is defined in the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Part IIA, s 78A, with reference to the contaminated land regime.

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